Monday, 26 July 2010

A GROUP SHOW BY OTHER MEANS

There are many summer group shows on now, but a whole group of group show reviews would not, I think, be such an appealing prospect. It's more fun to choose some interesting works - and by way of contrast the one piece in a one piece show at the ICA - to form a 'group show by other means'.



Rupert Norfolk: ‘Wall’, 2006 in ‘Newspeak: British Art Now’ @ the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Rd – Chelsea

To 17 Oct: www.saatchigallery.com

Rupert Norfolk was the artist least familiar to me who impressed in 'Newspeak', Saatchi's 29-strong survey of recent British art. I thought he, Karla Black, William Daniels, Sigrid Holmwood, Peter Peri and Ryan Mosley came across particularly well. Norfolk showed three cunningly deceptive sculptures: one with fake shadows, one with fake contours, and one – ‘Wall’ – with a fake lack of order. What looks like a dry stone wall which has tumbled at a point of breach is, on closer inspection, exactingly symmetrical: one side of each rock has been carved to mimic the natural form of the other, unaltered, side. It could represent no more than how the best-laid plans may fall through, but I was also reminded of the meticulous detail which goes into planning what may look like an arbitrary act of terrorist violence.



Fiona Banner: ‘The Bastard Word’, 2007 in ‘After the Volcano’ @ Frith Street Gallery, 17-18 Golden Square – Central

To 14 August: www.frithstreetgallery.com

There’s something of a Fiona Banner military moment going on just now. The South London Gallery’s show of wall works highlighting its expanded space includes Banner’s extensive war film narrative ‘Black Hawk Down’. Tate Britain’s Duveens Hall spectacularly features her two jet fighter planes as found sculptures of a diving harrier and a crouching jaguar, returning the planes to the macho animalism of their names. And the Frith Street Gallery's excellent summer show features the 2006-07 graphite alphabet of letters made from mashed-up planes in which, says Banner, ‘each letter is like a primitive weapon, each designed to be hurled. These weapons only exist because we can’t communicate, because of the failure of language. I suppose The Bastard Word is a kind of anti-alphabet, or anti-language.’



Adam Thomas: Free Fall Series, 2008-10 in ‘The Marquise Went Out at Five O’Clock’ @ Edel Assanti in collaboration with Jotta, 276 Vauxhall Bridge Rd – Victoria

To 5 Sept: www.edelassanti.com

Two of the lively five floors of this project space are given over to a complex curated group show of works which spin off an interesting-sounding novel by Michelle Bernstein to explore ‘recollective memory and interpretative allegory’. Among them is a large selection from Adam Thomas’s ongoing series ‘Free Fall’, which simultaneously reveals and deconstructs the authoritatively-regarded knowledge contained in the Pelican books from the late 50's to early 70's. Thomas’s collage-by-removal technique also suggests what lies beneath some of the social changes we can now see have come about since the books were published. Aesthetically, too, the series plays off the classic cover designs at the same time as subverting them in a rather appealing 'have your cake and eat it' manner.



Amikam Toren: 'Last Drawing No. 0', 2005 in ‘Inside outsider language’ @ Waterside Project Space, Unit 8, 44-48 Wharf Rd - Hoxton


To 15 August: www.watersideprojectspace.org

Waterside Projects currently has a typically well presented and documented show themed around the re-working of accepted forms to demonstrate their boundaries. Amikam Toren is perhaps best known for cutting words out of found amateur paintings to construct conceptual commentaries. Here, too, he finds a use for what might otherwise have been thrown away. Each time the London-based Israeli artist finishes a sketchbook, he makes a semi-sculptural form - which also constitutes one last drawing - out of the book’s wire and cardboard supports. The bent wire stands in for the mark on paper, and the ‘last drawing’ implies the history of all the sketches made in the book. You could call it a performance sculpture of sorts…



Leah Capaldi: 'Peplos', 2010 in ‘Young Gods’ @ CHARLIE SMITH London, 336 Old Street - Hoxton

To 7 Aug: www.charliesmithlondon.com

This is definitely a performance sculpture. Leah Capaldi plays off the frequent use of life-like mannequins in recent art to present a woman – who turns out to be real – crouched beneath two fur coats with just the very vulnerable-looking nape of her neck exposed: a sort of trompe l’oeil in reverse. Homelessness, execution and primitive ritual come to mind in this power-play, as well as the classical reference of the title: the peplos was a sleeveless garment worn in ancient Greece. The work comes from Capaldi’s RCA degree show, which also featured more visceral versions of the person as sculpture. Here it’s the highlight of an interesting survey of new graduates’ work – though following the opening you will have to bring your imagination to just the coats on the floor, ready for 'action'.



Anthea Hamilton: ‘Aquarius’, 2010 in ‘Bold Tendencies 4’ @ Peckham Multistorey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane – Peckham

To 30 Sept: www.hannahbarry.com

The disused top two floors of the multi-storey car park opposite Peckham Rye train station host 15 sculptors - along with impressive views and a rooftop bar - in the fourth annual event arranged by Hannah Barry. Anthea Hamilton’s vast Atlas-like figure makes the most striking use of the location. 25 feet tall without even standing up straight, he might have escaped from Hamilton’s previous gymnasium-themed installations to the great outdoors. Punnily enough, Aquarius seems to hold up some of his own scaffolding while the London Eye – and by evening the sun – appear between his legs. I guess it is the sun’s role which is referred to by the title, given that we are in the astrological ‘Age of Aquarius’. That used to be seen as the harbinger of new values: this work may be an ironic acknowledgement of how dated those hopes have become.



Kentaro Kobuke - Uma No Me, 2010 in ‘Tanabata’ @ Maddox Arts, 52 Brook’s Mews – Central

To 7 Sept: www.maddoxarts.com

Maddox Arts' attractive summer show asks four European-based Japanese artists to respond to a star festival myth in which the Weaver Star princess neglects her duties at the loom for love of the Shepherd Star, whose animals are similarly allowed to stray. As punishment, they are separated by the Gods on all but one day each year. The artists' responses are mostly oblique: Kengo Kito provides versions of the cloth; Kounosuke Kawakami gives us the post-industrial landscapes by which he imagines them separated; Emi Miyashita's drawings combine flag-waving state ceremonial with the worship of the breast – perhaps exposing the Freudian undercurrents of the tale. Kentaro Kobuke comes closest to showing the characters directly. That aside, his scribbled pencil on cherry wood technique, as in Uma No Me (Horse's Eyes), at once suggests childhood experience and paths through the legends associated with Japan’s most famous tree.



Ori Gersht: ‘Falling Bird’, 2008 in ‘The Borrowed Loop’ @ Man & Eve,
8a Courtenay St – Kennington

To 14 Aug: www.manandeve.com

Man & Eve have moved to project-friendly new premises halfway between Vauxhall and Kennington tube stations. This neatly-conceived show considers the freestyle ‘DJ mix’ use of appropriation from pre-modern art. The highlight is one of London-based Israeli photographer Ori Gersht’s set of three short films which provide violent but beautiful re-imaginings of classical still life paintings: shot fruit, exploding flowers, and this dead pheasant from Chardin falling at one minute per realtime second into a dark pool of water. At first the bird hanging with grapes (real ones,
but cunningly lit to look like painted grapes) looks like an image of a painting. But it ‘comes to life’ once cut free, falling with matching slowed-down liquid sounds and hyper-detailed splashes, and we see that the feathers dislodged are real. It’s riveting – and funny: a poke, surely, at Bill Viola, whose application of similar techniques to diving and rising people makes a melodramatic meal out of what is already implied by a vanitas still life.


Jane Harris: 'Divine', 2005 in the Summer Exhibition @ Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly - Central

To 22 Aug: www.royalacademy.org.uk

It’s a badge of art world cool to dismiss the biggest group show of all, but just how bad is the RA Summer Show? It depends I think how sensitive you are to a painting’s surroundings, for there is generally a good small show there, hidden inside – or, if you can’t make the visual separation, drowned out by – a big bad show. This year is no exception. Fiona Rae has turned Room V into an excellent show within the show, and elsewhere I felt there was a good survey of abstraction available. I would point to Bert Irvin and Frank Bowling in Room I, Jane Harris and Sean Scully in Room II, Ian Davenport and Danny Rolph in the print room, Mali Morris in the super-crowded small Weston Room, Callum Innes in Room VI, five by Tess Jaray in Room VII, and Alexis Harding in Room X as well as much of Room V. I concede, though, that you have to traverse Anthony Green, Jeffery Camp, Adrian Berg and lots of the the weirdly overrated recent work by Gillian Ayres. The large, enigmatic 'Divine' is from French-based baroque minimalist Jane Harris's fairly recent move towards metallic pigments. They add a semi-reflective lustre to the restrained seductions of her eliptoid play with the effects of light on subtly modulated surfaces.



Oscar Tuazon: My Mistake @ ICA, The Mall - Central

To 15 Aug (Wed-Sun only): www.ica.org.uk

It’s tempting to interpret everything at the ICA as a product of its beleaguered financial state: fewer staff, reduced opening hours, closed lavatories, the upper galleries not in use… Is it a coincidence, then, that the Paris-based American’s intervention – which looks like a hybrid of Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt - is a bit too big for the available space, as if without the budget for major reconfiguration, there was no choice but to let it penetrate the walls? I presume so, as Tuazon says that ‘ideas don’t have a place in sculpture – I just go to work’; and besides, he has previously made comparable interventions which he characterises as ‘two structures fucking each other’. He makes them on site, but they’re not so much site-specific as site-denying, imposing their will on the building. All the same, the abstract violence of his big, wild minimalism seems appropriate and successful, even if Tuazon calls it ‘My Mistake’.

Still showing from previous lists:

Ruairiadh O'Connell
to 7 Aug, Lara Schnitger to 7 Aug, Chelpa Ferro to 8 Aug then 24 Aug - 18 Sept, Hannah Wilke to 14 Aug,Inside/Outside to 14 Aug, Phyllida Barlow to 22 Aug, Pierre Soulages to 1 Sept, Frank Bowling to 3 Sept.

The Future: I'll list a selection of the many September openings next time.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

DARK IN THE SUN

From the varied shows running in a very bright summer, I seem to have fixed on some very restrained colour schemes, before moving into colour through three shows featuring textiles and fashion in one way or another at Carl Freedman, Modern Art and SHOWstudio and fully into the light with Frank Bowling...


Peinture 130 x 102 cm, 10 Janvier, 2010

Pierre Soulages - New Paintings @ Bernard Jacobson, 6 Cork St - Central

To 1 Sept: www.jacobsongallery.com

Fresh on the heels of a very popular Pompidou survey, 90 year old Pierre Soulages has a rare British showing. It presents two kinds of black paintings. There are several works on paper made with the walnut stain used on furniture, which Soulages first exploited in the 1940’s for the way it bleeds out into subtly varied blacks and browns. And there is a good range of recent ‘beyond black’ acrylics, which are totally black but use near-sculptural variations in texture to find light in the would-be-monotonous surface. The outre noir paintings have been Soulages’ main stream for the past thirty years, and seem equally readable as denying meaning in order to concentrate on the painterly effects achievable even by austere methods; or as metaphysical wrestings of light or creation from primordial darkness. Maybe they work like that as a kind of self-analysis tool: Soulages thinks he makes paintings ‘so that those who look at them, myself like everybody else, can find themselves in front of them, alone with themselves’. Soulages is not my favourite French abstract painter – that’s Bernard Frize – but he seems to be France’s favourite and it’s well worth exploring why.





Małgorzata Szymankiewicz
: Recent Paintings@ lokal_30_warszawa_london, 29 Wadeson St – Cambridge Heath

To 1 Aug - www.lokal30.pl

I’m not sure whether ‘Off-Vyner Street’ is yet a location in the manner of ‘Off- Broadway’ or 'Off-West End', but that’s where Warsaw’s lokal gallery set up temporarily last year, liked it and stayed. Loka makes a healthy addition to the London scene, and I like their current show of the young Polish painter Małgorzata Szymankiewicz. It sees her continue a recent move from strong colours to grey in order to concentrate without distraction on painting as a visual game producing 3D effects on a 2D surface (a comparison with Pierrre Soulages is enlightening). Some explore black holes, some have a post-constructivist bent, others feature cloud-like forms which have a deceptive appearance of depth produced by subtle tonality rather than linear perspective. But do the central forms come forward to meet the viewer, or retreat into the picture plane? That depends, due to how used we are to interpreting forms as lit from above, on which way up they are hung. Ask to have one flipped around if you don’t believe me…


Stocking detail from Six Play

Ruairiadh O’Connell: Six Play @ Bischoff/Weiss, 14a Hay Hill – Central

To 7 Aug: www.bischoffweiss.com

Talking of tricky-to-spell names… Frankfurt-based Scottish artist Ruairiadh O'Connell’s first solo show was at Bischoff / Weiss’s former East End space in 2008. I enjoyed that pretty straightforwardly: a varied set of poetically witty conjunctions which explored what made sense in a relationship - the found minimalism of potential romance, you might say. Six Play is grander and narrower. O'Connell shows six big aluminium sheets, their shimmer interrupted only by pointedly visible screws and near-abstract silkscreen impression from found photographs of women's black silk stockings. This struck me as risky: was there more here than fetishisation of the stolen glimpse and the implication that women have sat on his paintings and spoiled their distanced pristinity? That’s there, I think, but playing off the more sexually-balanced joke that sixplay has to be even better than foreplay. Then I was drawn in to the equivalence between stockings and how the silkscreen process works, and between the pattern of stockings and the pixellisation of the blown-up bits of photos. And anyway, I like risks…


Dora Maar: Untitled (1934)

Phyllida Barlow: Swamp @ V22, 10-16 Ashwin Street - Dalston

To 22 Aug (Thurs-Sun): www.v22collection.com

Liane Lang: Shadows and Stowaways @ Squid & Tabernacle, container by garage at northern end of Hartwell St - Dalston

To 24 July (Thurs-Sun): www.squidandtabernacle.com

These two spaces are now handily juxtaposed just opposite the northern end of the East London line at Dalston Junction, and both have interesting shows on now. Regular readers won’t be surprised that I like the result of Phyllida Barlow’s residency at V22, for which their exhibition space become her studio for the installation ‘Swamp’, and also for her Serpentine and Studio Voltaire production. Waldemar Januszczak’s disapproval is often a good sign, and according to him ‘Barlow is a bore. Her work is…joyless, graceless, inelegant, awkward, messy and pretentious’. Rather, this show is wrong in the right ways: energetically ramshackle and colourfully uplifting. Presumably Hauser & Wirth – who’ve just signed Phyllida – agree. And the meaning? According to the accompanying essay by Fergal Stapleton, it's to warn of the folly of too deep an investment in absolutes.

50 yards away from V22 if you can fly (200 yards if you can’t) is the shipping container which forms Squid & Tabernacle’s mobile exhibition unit. Young artist Liane Lang, best known for sneaking wax limbs into classical or communist groups of statues, plays off the shipping connotations and the regenerating dereliction surrounding the container in an uncanny five minute film sequence which is projected against a sculptural screen resembling stacked containers. Roll up to see a wax woman in action, a toy boat tossed on a sea of hair, a stray hand inhabiting a shell as if it were a hermit crab - from Dora Maar's famous photograph which I like so much that's my illustration. Lang gives us a somewhat surreal sequence, readable I think as an account of the trials of immigration - which fits with Maar's being a Croatian raised in Argentina who became famous in France. You’ll want to watch twice.



Blockbuster @ Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Rd – Hoxton

To 31 July: www.seventeengallery.com

Seventeen have, as ever, two shows for the price – which is nothing – of one. Upstairs is an attractive group show, but Paul Pieroni’s 10th use of the basement project space is more innovative. Jack Goldstein’s now-classic 1975 short video loop ‘Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’ sets the scene by extracting the famous lion from the title credits to make him roar repeatedly as a feature in himself. Three other monitors take the cue to show – just the once – hundreds of film production logos of similar ilk, totaling 50 minutes of footage. You can play the nerd by spotting different versions of the same studio’s logo. You can tease yourself with the anti-climactic accumulation of so much heroic music getting nowhere - even Ruairiadh O'Connell could learn a bit more about foreplay here. Or you can get scholarly with the third component: texts selected for the exhibition, including ‘Everything You wanted to know abut American film company logos but were afraid to ask’ and ‘Branding Hollywood: studio logos and the aesthetics of hype and memory’. Even if you don’t have time to read them, knowing you could do so adds to the import: yes, this is fun but there’s serious analysis of corporate behaviour to be done.


Ian Monroe: LCD-1V

Surface Warp Factor @ The Aubin Gallery, 64-66 Redchurch St – Shoreditch

To 25 July: www.aubingallery.com

The season of summer group shows is upon us: they are generally enjoyable, and the better galleries do far more than just mark time with an arbitrary selection from gallery artists: there’s extra-stable breadth and curatorial conviction at Wilkinson, Frith Street, Timothy Taylor and Simon Lee, for example. However, I’ve chosen the less well-known Aubin Gallery, a new space directed by artist Stuart Semple. And before you say that Stuart’s work isn’t your bag, the gallery is very wide-ranging and open to alternative voices: in this case Richard Ducker of the now-spaceless Fieldgate Gallery has made an excellent selection unobtrusively themed around science fiction and futuristic geometry. The sci-fi aspect takes the lead in the biggest Gordon Cheung painting I’ve seen, and Stewart Gough’s striking modern hooligan version of Henry Moore. The geometry is more prominent in Juan Bolivar’s modest grayscale visions; a big, gleaming Ian Monroe painting; and Sheena Macrae’s impressive video installation, which condenses ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ into seven minutes by showing 1/30th of each of 30 seven-minute sequences as simultaneous strips – and then multiplies the result into infinity with two side mirrors. That seems to fit the press release’s extract from William Gibson’s ‘Necromancer’: ‘The Moderns were mercenaries, practical jokers, nihilistic techno fetishists’.


Great Expectations 2

David Brian Smith: Great Expectations @ Carl Freedman Gallery, 44a Charlotte Rd – Hoxton

To 31 July: www.carlfreedmangallery.com

This show is unusual in these days for its rural focus: Smith grew up on a Shropshire farm, and that is reflected in his subjects of shepherded sheep and country landscapes. The pictures are not straightforward, though, as they are are applied to a herringbone linen with a weave more associated with the traditional clothing his forbears would have worn. The herringbone pattern is emphasised by Smith picking it out in paint. That makes for a labour-intensive and intricately patterned counter-realist effect, equal parts geometric, pointillist and psychedelic. The results are somewhat spiritual and - helped by the unusual pastel and fluorescent colour combinations - intensify the sense of how removed farm life has become from most of our everyday experiences. I didn’t have great expectations, as Smith’s work was unknown to me, but it proves an absorbing surprise.




Lara Schnitger: damned women @ Modern Art, 23-5 Eastcastle Street – Fitzrovia

To 7 August: www.modernart.net

On the face of it, LA-based Dutch artist Lara Schnitger’s new show of sculpture and collaged paintings makes up a grungy world of caricature which is some way from classic modernism. Yet they reminded me of Matisse’s peerless ability to integrate patterned fabrics into his compositions, albeit where Matisse always has a representational logic, Schnitger uses textiles to stand in for pretty-much anything, parodying her domestic and traditionally feminine materials to friskily sexy effect. I like how the installation encourages you to see see the paintings of powerful women and mythic animals through the semi-open screens of the ramshackle sculptures, themselves figures, abstractions and furniture all at once. You can also read the goings-on through the ‘damned women’ of Baudelaire’s poems, who are as addictively seductive as drugs and flirt with each other the better to incite male jealousy. All in all, then, it’s a heady mix.

Marilyn Minter: Still from ‘Green Pink Caviar’


Inside/Outside @ SHOWstudio SHOP, 1-9 Bruton Place – Mayfair

To 14 Aug: http://shop.showstudio.com/

The SHOWstudio occupies the space some might remember as the original site of Timothy Taylor’s gallery (1996-2003). The Shop merges fashion with art, which in the case of ‘Inside/Out’ is themed for the use of inner body materials and works which expose the body’s workings. Dan Colen and Terence Koh have interesting pieces here, but the most striking and thematic art is Marilyn Minter’s recent seven minute
video ‘Green Pink Caviar’. Riffing on her well-known fetishistically-detailed paintings of mouths and feet, she had a long-tongued, full-lipped model spit, suck and swirl colourful cake decorations onto glass. Filmed from beneath with no eyes shown, it’s disturbingly gorgeous. Minter says that ‘it’s about hunger and insatiability’, and grew out of a desire ‘to make enamel paintings along the idea of painting with my tongue’. Lady Gaga is the dominant fashion-end participant here: there’s a Duchampian urinal she’s pissed in; a video of her being vomited on in a mint-coloured stream by Puking Millie, who follows a strict diet ahead of her performances;and the resulting green-stained pleated white Marko Mitanovski dress.
There’s also an accompanying live studio programme. Recommended, then,for all your liquid needs…


Barticabush

Frank Bowling @ Rollo Contemporary, 51 Cleveland Street - Fitzrovia

To 3 Sept (Mon-Fri only): www.rolloart.com

Frank Bowling was born in Guyana in 1936 but moved to England in 1950 and has long maintained studios in London – where he became the first black British artist to be elected to the Royal Academy – and New York. His vibrant gell-textured acrylics typically bring a sense of tropical heat, light and water to a language which derives from Eurpean and North American traditions. Particular series tend to follow tactics which become informal rules: in works from this year lime and lemon background hues are combined with separate strips of differently-coloured canvasses, which provide a framing geometric architecture. The resulting paintings are abstracts which feel connected to the land, and incorporate diverse items such as the casing from Bowling’s medication for diabetes. They communicate a freewheeling and joyful exporation of painting, place and self.



Tour Feature: People often ask me what I would recommend as an afternoon’s tour of current exhibitions. The newly opened section of the London Overground, decked out in bright orange with air conditioning and no separation of carriages, is an underground-style service which happens to go overground. It's a very handy art link which joins Goldmiths, Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston. Just now, for example, you could travel along it to visit my recommendations of (from the north) V22 and Squid & Tabernacle, both a few yards from Dalston Junction; Seventeen (and plenty else - Limoncello is closest of all), near Hoxton Station; the Aubin Galleries, just opposite the Shoreditch High Street stop; and the Whitechapel Gallery, though that is, paradoxically, closer to Aldgate East (it's Ritter/Zamet that's pretty-well opposite the Whitechapel stop).

Still showing from previous lists:

Michael Stubbs to 24 July, Matt Calderwood to 24 July, Gelitin to 28 July, Chelpa Ferro to 8 Aug then 24 Aug - 18 Sept, Hannah Wilke to 14 Aug.

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

TEN FOR THE FUTURE

Pretty much everything has opened by now that will before Autumn, but here are ten shows I haven't yet been to which may well be good:

Doug Burton @ Schwartz: to 1.8

Young Gods: 2010 London Graduates @ CHARLIE SMITH London: to 7.8

Clunie Read @ Studio Voltaire: to 7.8

The Uneasy Landscape: Graduate Show @ FOLD: to 8.8

The Borrowed Loop @ Man & Eve: to 14.8

Boyd Webb / Suchan Kinoshita @ Bloomberg Space: to 14.8

Colour is the Keyboard @ Gimpel Fils: to 27.8

Urban Origami @ PM Gallery: to 29.8

Make Vanitas Your Own @ Alexia Goethe: to 10.9

Leah Gordon @ Riflemaker: to 10.9



Photo credits: relevant artists and galleries

Sunday, 4 July 2010

SOUTH COAST JAUNT

If you do like to be beside the seaside in summer, then there's much to be said for making the south coast combination of three architecturally award-winning spaces into an attractive day trip: Pallant House, Chichester, which opened its extension in 2006; the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, basking in the splendour of a completely new building opened last year; and the 1930’s modernist classic de la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, sparkling afresh following an extensive make-over finished in 2005. What’s more, their current exhibitions are well worth seeing. And a new gallery is currently under construction on the historic seafront in Hastings…


Leonora Carrington: Grandmother Moorhead's Aromatic Kitchen, 1975

Kati Horna: Leonora Carrington at her easel, Mexico, 1956

Surreal Friends @ Pallant House, Chichester - 95 minutes from London Victoria by train

To 12 Sept: www.pallant.org.uk

Pallant House’s innovative and impressively-conceived show makes extensive presentations of the work of three women, displaced by World War II, who became ‘surreal friends’ in Mexico: Spanish painter Remedios Varo (1908-63) and Hungarian photographer Kati Horna (1912-2000) – neither much-seen in Britain before – plus English painter Leonora Carrington. The latter is probably better-known here for her venturesome life, kick-started by becoming Max Ernst’s lover in 1937, than for her art – but is widely celebrated in Mexico, where she lives on at 93. Overall, the combination of paintings, relevant photographs and lively biographical details makes for a fascinating exhibition. I wasn’t, however, persuaded that Carrington’s work demands that her European reputation rise to its South American level: it’s good to see her paintings en masse in the flesh, but many of them struck me as curiously inert in their potentially attractive fusion of Piero della Francesca and Bosch.


Eric Ravilious: Downs in Winter, 1934

James Ravilious: Alf Pugsley moving a shed in case of flood, Langham, Dolton, Devon, England, 1978

Familiar Visions - Eric and James Ravilious: Father and Son @ Towner Gallery, Eastbourne - 50 minutes from Chichester by train

To 5 Sept: www.eastbourne.gov.uk/leisure/museums-galleries/towner/

Eastbourne also features a historically interesting combination: paintings of Sussex by Eric Ravilious (1903-42) and photographs of farming communities in Devon taken in the 1970-80s by his son, James (1939-99). This works well in that both deal with man in the landscape, but where James does so directly by capturing characterful rural personalities and their working practices, his father usually did so indirectly by omitting people in favour of their machines and the marks – such as fences – they left on the land. Towner also has the advantage that their local hero Eric, who grew up in Eastbourne and returned to teach there from 1925-32) is the most significant of the artists at these three south coast venues. The gallery’s own substantial collection is complemented by loans, and there is quite a lot here which wasn’t in the Imperial War Museum’s centenary celebration in 2003.


Still from 'Without Parade'

Detail inside the hut of 'Paper Work @ the Seaside'


Tomoko Takahashi: Introspective Retrospective @ the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill – 15 minutes from Eastbourne by train

To 12 Sept: www.dwlp.com

Mendelsohn and Chermayeff’s classic 1930’s pavilion hosts – yes, him again – 60 casts of Antony Gormley on the roof; and a twenty year retrospective of Tomoko Takahashi. The Anglo-Japanese artist is known for teeming installations of objects which exploit how their functions ‘can get out and turn into something else’, as she put it to me. What she shares with Ravilious, I think, is an unusually heightened sense of pictorial rhythm, albeit with contrasting means: through the carefully anarchic arrangement of items rather than through a pulsingly intricate dry brush watercolour technique. What’s more, Takahashi’s range is wider than you might imagine, with collages, storyboards, games, a computerised piss-take of word processing systems, a smile-making film of a large scale tickertape event without the excuse of a parade, a manga hut, and a shed from the world of white among her hugely enjoyable works by the sea.

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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