Saturday, 25 September 2010


This is a new-style mix of preview and current review material ahead of Frieze week. There's almost too much art to see in London during October, with many galleries looking to put on their best shows alongside the Frieze Art Fair, not to mention Raphael at the V&A and the Tate's Gauguin blockbuster. This is therefore a very selective Pick & Mix ranging from small to large, public to private, little-known to famous... but with not one but two shows featuring daily sculptures.

London 11

Nathaniel Rackowe: What the city left behind @ Bishoff Weiss, 14A Hay Hill – Central

To 30 Oct:

This exhibition completes a year in which Nathaniel Rackowe and his wife, Rana Begum, have both had two solo shows in London, which must be some kind of record. And Rackowe seems to have drawn inspiration from his wife by adopting her signature material of powder-coated aluminium to striking effect - both in components of his light-emitting sculptures, and as the ground for two dimensional works using bitumen paint. Both exploit a high impact fluorescent yellow to ramp up the intensity in evocations, through the medium of reworking marginal architectures, of the sub-conscious of the city.

Untitled, 2009

William Daniels @ Vilma Gold, 6 Minerva Street – Cambridge Heath

10 Oct - 14 Nov:

William Daniels became known for making torn paper tableaux of famous images, which he then rendered as realistic paintings at once modest and oddly monumental. He has recently expanded his range, and the technical difficulties he faces, by devising his own compositions and using metallic foil to make the maquettes to be copied. That increases the unpredictable role of light on the various angles of what are more abstract paintings, often with hints of faces. The results, poised between the real and the reflected, are as beautiful as they are spatially baffling.

XXI Broken and re-assembled sculpture 6

Graham Hudson @ The German Gymnasium, Pancras Road – Kings Cross

5 – 29 Oct:

Teasing at our differing expectations of art, architecture and the contents of a skip, Graham Hudson incorporates scaffolding and building site materials into monumentally fragile installations. He was well suited, then, to six months as Kings Cross artist in residence, utlising what lay around in the rapidly developing area to make a sculpture a day for the 181 days and an installation in the UK's first purpose-built gym space. Hudson promises a ‘noisy sprawling Vision of closed down nightclubs, brothel ghosts, ruins and stacks of breeze blocks’ as a ‘psychological antidote’ to the utopian aspirations of the KX development models downstairs in the same building.

Cosmic Thing, 2002

Damián Ortega: The Independent @ The Barbican

15 Oct – 16 Jan:

Talking of daily production… Over the past two years, a succession of well-chosen artists has engaged innovatively with the unusual dimensions of the Barbican’s Curve Gallery. Next up is the adventurous Mexican artist Damián Ortega, who has manipulated and pulled apart all manner of things from tortillas to bricks to a Volkswagen Beetle which he disassembled, hanging the parts up on wires. Now he plans – with echoes of his former career as a political cartoonist – to fill The Curve with unusually current art by making a new sculpture every day in response to what’s in the news.

Still from one screen

Julian Rosefeldt: American Night @ BFI Gallery, South Bank

To 6 Nov:

German artist Julian Rosefeldt's ‘American Night’ is a 40 minute loop on five screens, impressive enough to transcend the potentially jaded trope of using the tradition of the Hollywood western to comment on current American politics. It deconstructs the mechanisms of cinematographic narratives at the same time: for examle, one screen brings Bush and Obama puppets into a raucous tavern scene, another fabricates the musings of cowboys round a camp fire out of Hollywood, political and rap quotes. The lesson might be that American foreign policy has been made in the way of a movie, and bears similar connections to reality…

Ry Fyan: Deluge

The Coke Factory @ Ritter / Zamet, Unit 8, 80A Ashfield St – Whitechapel

To 23 Oct:

How familiar are you with the group of artists currently considered cool in New York, most famously connected through the rebelliousness of the late Dash Snow? They haven’t been shown all that much in Britain, so this presentation of small works by a dozen of them is welcome. Dash himself features via a punchy anti-Bush diptych, and his one-time wife Agathe with a sculpture improvised around an appropriated traffic cone. Look out for Ry Fyan’s paintings, which flip back and forth between collaged elements and their painted imitations in an intricate mash-up of artistic and everyday registers.

SUbstance Misuse II, 2006

Susan Collis: I Miss You @ Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Rd - Hoxton

7 Oct - 13 Nov:

You may know Susan Collis as an artist whose work is easily missed, as she’s played with the values of material, labour and art by reproducing, for example, what look like accidental splashes of paint in mother of pearl. Collis is less interested, though, in invisibility than in rescuing the overlooked, and there was an emotional aspect to that in her major show at Birmingham’s Ikon six months ago. That continues in this show through new paper sculptures, assemblages, and drawings in whihc the stand-out pieces are made not with but from the leads from pencils.

Untitled, 2007

Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works @ Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row - Central

15 Oct – 18 Dec:

Hauser & Wirth inaugurates its enormous (10,000 sq ft) new space on Savile Row with seventy drawings made from collaged clothing and fabrics plus four large sculptures, all made in the decade before Bourgeois’ death earlier this year. Textiles are central to Bourgeois in the context of the domestic traumas which drove much of her output, given that her parents ran a tapestry restoration workshop in which she helped. An artist’s stock often rises or falls sharply posthumously, and the reception of this show may help indicate which way Bourgeois’ reputation will move.

Maya - a lost island, 2005

Alexander Ponomarev: Sea Stories @ Calvert22

6 Oct – 21 Nov:

The impressively-appointed Calvert22 has presented a succession of interesting takes on East European art since opening last year, and now gives a first British solo show to the Russian ex-nautical engineer and submariner Alexander Ponomarev. He’s probably best known for the project through which he has linked up various art locations by having his submarine surface at them, but Sea Stories is a chance to assess the hidden depths in a much wider range of work including installations, films and images distorted by being subjected to the water pressure 4km below sea-level .

Canela (Cinnamon), 2009

Beatriz Milhazes @ Stephen Friedman Gallery, 25-28 Old Burlington Street - Central

11 Oct - 20 Nov:

The Brazilian painter and collagist Beatriz Milhazes (born 1960) creates her own intoxicating world of colour and movement through a tropical blend of ornamental pastiche in which gardens, carnivals, op art, neo-conctretism and the baroque collide. Milhazes often applies her paint through layers achieved by painting onto plastic, gluing that to the canvas and peeling it away to leave the image. That should translate well to brightening up the expansive front window of the Stephen Friedman Gallery with a site-specific vinyl drawing. There will also be a new large-scale triptych inside the gallery.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


This selection tends towards the uncanny, disturbing and deceptive, ranges from Cole to Coles, includes two distinctive ways of making video painterly, and features many works which take explicit account of the viewer's position - which will, I suggest, be a rewarding one in the following galleries...

Jacco Olivier @ Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Rd - Hoxton

To 2 Oct

The Dutch artist Jacco Olivier has become known for telling stories through films built up from repeatedly reworked paintings. His new show dispenses with the narrative to present classic themes from the history of painting – landscape, nude, portrait - in slowly changing forms which also refer to various historic painting styles – impressionism, expressionism, abstract expressionism. That provides for more focus on the losses and gains from his technique compared with straight painting. The texture and visceral presence of paint is lost, the sense of immediate connection to the artist’s hand, and most of the difference in perception from differing distances. But the colours are intensified by the electric light, and the gestural quality of the painted marks are emphasised by magnification of what are actually small canvases – especially in ‘Revolution’, a 24 minute (at one minute per hour), 240 inch wide tour de force projection of a universe rotating about its axis. ‘Revolution’ also exploits the more complex space which can be created by overlapping layers of paint when the layers can move relative to each other, an effect which is just as strong in a Lanyon-like aeriel landscape. I didn’t leave Victoria Miro fearing that conventional painting is dead (again), but I did leave believing that Olivier has found a mode which works for him as a valid alternative to it.

Sinta Werner: Installation Shot

Sinta Werner: Along the Sight Lines @ Nettie Horn, 25B Vyner St

To 17 Oct:

The cul-de-sac in the middle of Vyner Street provides a double dose of perspectival illusion at the moment. Two years ago the German installation artist Sinta Werner built an imaginary mirror into the Nettie Horn gallery. Now she has painted an out of kilter version of the same room onto itself: as with the mirror illusion, it all makes sense from one central point, like a minister’s view from Parliament perhaps, but as soon as you move around the gallery (or country) the partiality of that one view is exposed. This sort-of trompe l'oeil in reverse is accompanied by collages which take related approaches. See Nettie Horn's site for my conversation with Sinta.

Sean Branagan: Tart of the Day

Sean Branagan: ‘Take me anywhere, don’t care – I don’t care’ @ Gooden Gallery, 25A Vyner St

To 17 Oct:

Over the road at the Gooden Gallery, Sean Branagan's Smiths-entitled show fuses painting with video not by animating painted scenes, but by including elements which echo back and forth between the sculptural construction of the screen and what it contains. In 'Fleshless Lovers' that takes the form of colour revelations by the opening and closing of painted feet which manage to be at once sexy and comic. His latest works ('Odd things persist for inexplicable reasons' and 'Tart of the day' - not what you might think but the model's choice from the menu at the cafe afterwards) seem to have arrived at an extreme version of cubism. They show a face lit from within and without, and projected twice, one on top of the other - the model is unadorned in one take and painted with graphic marks in the other. Meanwhile, the frame around the image contains versions of those same marks: as positive and negative graphic forms, as sculptural forms and as shadows thrown by the sculptures.

William Pye: Starburst

William Pye @ Pangolin London, King’s Place, 90 York Way – Kings Cross and @ Osbourne Samuel, 23a Bruton St – Central

To 2 Oct (Osbourne Samuel) / 24 Dec (Pangolin)

I’ve previously mentioned the joint merits of the Kings Place and Pangolin Galleries in the splendid canalside King’s Place building. Both have two substantial shows on currently. The former has Anthony Wishaw and the unusual environmentally-oriented ‘Unfold: A Cultural Response to Climate Change’, a wide-ranging show derived from trips to the Amazon and poles which features artists alongside such wider cultural celebrities as Feist, Lemn Sissay and Ian McEwan. I liked a video-documented automatic drawing which rather appropriately collaborates with nature: Daro Montag, who has worked with toads and worms in the past, arranged for leafcutter ants to produce an entrancingly-generated image out of carbon (in this case candle soot, which ants don’t much like). Paladin has photographer David Bailey’s surprising sculptures and William Pye’s dramatic use of water as a sculptural element in ten major pieces spread around the complex to invite what one might term the enjoyable game of Eye Spye. There’s an extra helping of Pye – mainly maquettes – at Osbourne Samuel: the joint show celebrates a monumental new monograph setting out the impressive range of his work, which has tended until now to be seen through specific commissions more than through gallery shows.

Object 381-24-3

Marc Lüders: Photography & Painting @ Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, 11 Church St – Marylebone

To 9 Oct:

This is the first British showing for Marc Lüders (born Hamburg, 1963), though he is well-known in Germany for his characteristic methods of playing off reality and illusion by painting onto photographs in various ways. This exhibition provides a substantial taste of his main strands: abstract brushstrokes which take on quirky life in landscapes photographed for the purpose by Lüders; additions to the Berlin Walls’ East Side Gallery graffiti; realistic figures painted into upside down photos of supermarkets in visually striking meditations on the topsy-turvy nature of consumerist values; and images from Abu Ghraib in which the effect of the overpainting is to remove the figures without removing our awareness of their former presence. They lure you into a rather distinctive world, which may be why Patrick Heide has chosen to add boldly to the mix with ramshackle sculptural installations by RCA MA student Vasilis Asimakopoulos.

Upstairs installation view

Gregor Schneider: Fotografie und Skulptur @ Sadie Coles HQ, 69 South Audley Street - Mayfair

To 2 Oct:

The German artist Gregor Schneider, best-known for the total work of art through which he has successively transformed his house in Monchengladbach over the past thirty years, has shown little in London recently so this is a welcome mini-retrospective. Downstairs, I was reminded of how Schneider has speculated on the possibility of exhibiting an already-dying person as art, in order to capture what he calls ‘the beauty in death’. Here we see bits of bodies spotlit out of a dark dense enough to make it unclear whether they are full corpses in bin bags or dismembered remains. Upstairs are sculptural elements and photographic evocations, clinical as the records of crime scenes, from the house and other previous installations. The whole show casts the visitor as a troubled voyeur and gives a strong taste for the nature of Schneider’s work as a whole, which operates very directly in accordance with Freud’s definition of the uncanny as being what‘ought to have remained secret and hidden… but has come to light’ – just like the bodies in the basement.


Robert Nicol: Breaking Wheel @ Cole Contemporary, 3-4a Little Portland Street - near Oxford Circus

To 2 Oct:

Tom Cole's new gallery concentrating on young artists has made a good initial impression. Robert Nicol paints provocatively at the edge of illustration in acrylic on perspex, which seems to suit a casual, spontaneous style. He combines the naivety of historic folk art, such as sporting and military pictures, with a more sophisticated use of perspectival space than is usual in those genres. To be broken on the wheel was one of the most barbaric ways of being executed in the middle ages, and Nicol has a grotesque yet cheerful way with violence, putting me in mind of Nathalie Djurberg’s films. He suggests he may be influenced by having a pathologist, mason, butcher and dentist among his immediate forebears! Nicol's imaginative scenarios feature, surreal transformations and an interest in public display: people ride fingers for horses round phallic towers, lop off limbs and engage in circus acts in what seems to be a mock-sadistic send-up of social ritual.

Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou

Lucy May, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou and Sarah Pager @ 276 Vauxhall Bridge Road – Vitoria

To Oct 3:

Three new shows have just opened at the Edel Assanti-coordinated six floors of 276 Vauxhall Bridge Raod. Added to Holster Projects (on the top floor till x x x), they make an energetic combination. Lucy May’s ‘Suburban Baroque’ is domesticity gone perversely out of control, with distended pile-ups of wax, foam and cloth trussed up on pebble dash plinths. Jack Bell shows Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou’s portraits from Benin. They’re African studio photography gone hip hop psychedelic as the exagerrated colour and patterns of the backgrounds vie with the subjects’ extravagant clothes. And recent graduate Sarah Pager makes the best use yet of the basement project space with three installations in which the body seems to attempt an escape from its realities. Eyes are trippily closed to take in the sun. A whole makeshift room breathes. Floor-sweeping eyelashes take over who knows what orifice. Pager is interested in bodily processes and quantum physics: the latter didn’t strike me as prominent here, but does lead me on to…

Daniel Lergon: Untitled

Between Nothingness and Eternity @ Regina London, 22 Eastcastle St – Fitzrovia

To 6 Oct:

This is the third show in the London incarnation of the international Moscow gallery Regina, and sees it expand beyond the natural-enough Russian content of the first two with a restrained yet lively group show of six Berlin-based artists whose abstract works can be seen as combining material with spiritual and east with west, and ‘oscillating’ in the show’s own words, ‘between the medium and its aura’. Olaf Holzapfel’s gridded hay and Gregor Hildebrandt’s gestures towards the lost sound of the cassette tape from which he makes his paintings both exploit their materials to that end - what you hear isn't Hildebrandt's painting but composer Bert Wrede's soundtrack to the show. The highlight is Daniel Lergon’s big audience-responsive exploration of the interaction of paint and light, which he composed ‘in the round’ using lacquer on retroreflective fabric close to white on white so that it appears glowingly and then almost disappears depending on the viewer’s angle. At its most explicitly visible it shows two forms in space which could, thematically enough, be asteroids in space or – according to Lergon, who has a keen interest in science – the metal plates in a vacuum which produce the Casimir effect, an apparent force out of nothing which has been proposed as the mechanism behind the big bang. Either way, it’s beautiful.

Michael Shaw: Chameleons & Shape Shifters @ Schwarz Gallery, 92 White Post Lane – Hackney Wick

To 10 Oct (Fri-Sun only):

The artist-run Schwarz Gallery is one of several spaces which have sprung up in Hackney Wick in recent years. Sculptor Michael Shaw has made full use of a cavernous 20 metre-long space by installing a pneumatic intestinal sculpture which wraps itself around its several interior columns and breathes in and out over a five minute cycle. Fully inflated, it pushes up against the gallery’s boundaries as if trying to escape even such large confines, or else to take it over. The reflection from its pink sheen similarly infects the walls. Shaw also shows colour-shifting wall pieces, just as organic and singular in form, lit from within by computer-controlled LED displays. It’s hard not to think when faced by such changeability in this location of the lurking presence of the Olympic Stadium and the transformation which its construction is bringing to the surrounding communities.

Tour Suggestion: There's plenty to be said at the moment for a walk north from Ancient & Modern's stimulating show of Austrian artist Rulolf Polanszky, a friend of Franz West who shares much of his spirit; to the elegant French games of Clement Rodzielski at Sutton Lane; up John Street to Rod Barton for James Ryan's paintings (Saturday only); veering slightly east for Jacco Olivier (at Victoria Miro as above) and the nearby Parasol Unit double header of new graduates and Adel Abdessemed (from 22 Sept); then concluding in Wharf Road with the Waterside Project Space's witty delve into the nature of corners.

Still showing from previous lists:

Steve Bishop to 25 Sept, Joana Vasconcelos to 25 Sept, Keep Me Posted to 26 Sept, Chelpa Ferro to 30 Sept, David Blandy to 2 Oct, WITH to 2 Oct, Alex Gene Morrison to 2 Oct, Reanimation Library to 16 Oct, Alejandro Ospina to 31 Oct, The Body in Women's Art Now to 5 Nov, Mike Nelson to 3 Jan gives full address and opening time details of most shows


Here are ten shows I'm looking forward to:

David Nash @ Annely Juda 16.9 – 23.10
Hydrarchy: Power and Resistance at Sea @ Gasworks 18.9 - 7.11
Nathaniel Rackowe @ Bischoff/Weiss 17.9 – 30.10
Fiona Tan @ Frith Street: 17.9 - 29.10
Gary Fabian Miller @ Hacklebury: 23.9 – 29.1
Paola Pivi @ Carlson: 25.9 – 31.10
David Adamo @ Ibid Projects: 26.9 – 6.11
Liane Lang @ KvH Projects, 125 Charing Cross Rd: 28.9 - 3.10
Andrew Curtis @ Payne Shurvell: 8.10 - 6.11
James Brooks @ Trinity Contemporary 8.10 – 22.10

Photo credits: relevant artists and galleries + Steve Russell (Pye)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


The autumn season has arrived and it is vigorous,lively and varied, embracing new modes of abstraction, various takes on self-identity, inkblot inspirations, the postal system and eccentric performance...


Alex Gene Morrison: Dark Matter @ CHARLIE SMITH London, 336 Old St – Hoxton

To 2 Oct:

At first glance this show of what look like gloweringly elemental abstracts with slab-like titles (‘Mass’, ‘Beam’, ‘Static’ and, indeed, ‘Slab’) has little in common with the more populated paintings and videos of Morrison’s last London solo outing in 2006. In fact, they represent various openings, and their status as coffins, tombs or as portals into other potential dimensions becomes clear when you learn that they were partly inspired by the death of the artist’s father. Morrison’s previous interest in video games, counter cultures and science fiction remains, but with classic abstractionists added to the mix in what might be seen as accounts of future worlds in which a particular set of twentieth century pasts has come back into fashion: Morrison says he likes ‘the time travel aspect of referencing Malevich, Rothko and Rienhardt while keeping the viewer in the present’.

You can see my interview with Alex Gene Morrison at

My Work Here is Done XV

Steve Bishop: ><>< @ Gallery Vela, 38 Langham St – Fitzrovia

To 25 Sept:

Steve Bishop seems to be leading a sculptural double life: his neon ‘n’ taxidermy graduation period work from 2008 is still being widely shown (and will be in Part II of the Saatchi Gallery’s ‘Newspeak’) even as he develops his current more abstract strand: assisted ready-mades with a particular penchant for glass coffee tables. Might that be why the eccentric exhibition title is a mixture of a keyboard’s forward and return symbols? What pushes this seven piece set beyond mere elegance is how unlikely combinations – such as glass and cassette tape – achieve a conversational harmony; whereas items which ought to get on – most obviously two barstool bases of the same design – contrive to fall out. This is the third show at Alli Beddoes and Patrick Cameron’s Gallery Vela – named to suggest a constellation of stars – and it’s developing an interesting programme, with each artist also proposing literary and musical tie-ins: Baudrillard and John Cage (with a performance from 4 pm on 25 Sept) are among Bishop’s picks.

Cecily Brown: New Laboutin Pumps

The Body in Women's Art Now: Part 2 - Flux
@ ROLLO Contemporary Art, 51 Cleveland St - Fitzrovia

To 5 Nov:

This show is rich in underpinning ideas about what might be termed the assertion of female identity beyond feminism – see my interview with its curator, Philippa Found at – but it also contains what are, taken for themselves, compelling works. Upstairs are three well-known artists: Cecily Brown somehow gets a muddy brown abstraction to coalesce into a lushly erotic scene of pumped-up copulation. Nathalie Djurberg’s extreme pair of videos show a father figure trying to cut off his darker desires along with his limbs, but to no avail; and a mother suffering from her children deciding to return to the womb. Tracey Emin rips into traditional views of female handiwork by showing the assertive double-handiwork combination of drawing herself masturbating. Downstairs are three interesting newer artists. Tiina Heiska and Sarah Lederman bring abstract and existential dimensions to female figure paintings; while everything is fluid, literally and metaphorically, in Helen Carmel Benigson’s very contemporary videos.

Installation view

David Blandy: Child of the Atom @ Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Rd – Hoxton

To 2 Oct:

Downstairs, David Blandy shows a 14 minute film which takes forward his ongoing but oblique exploration of his self-identity by showing him as a world-be cartoon hero and with his infant daughter visiting Hiroshima to search for their origins – on the basis of what Blandy calls a familial myth that ‘my late Grandfather would not have survived being a Japanese Prisoner of War had the atomic bombing of Hiroshima not occurred’. Upstairs, Blandy has converted the gallery into an anthology of Hiroshima as it is now. This set-up has three points of particular interest. First, it anatomises the difficulty which everyday banality has in escaping the portents of history in such a place (an aspect, incidentally, which is beautifully explored in a purer form in Kirk Palmer’s recent lyrical cityscape film ‘Hiroshima’). Second, the artist’s daughter narrates the trip as her future, adult self – so standing in for what Blandy’s father might have said at the time Blandy was a boy about Hiroshima’s role in his son’s origins. And third, that use of the ‘future self’ put me in mind of the fiendish philosophical conundrum which Derek Parfit formulates in ‘Reasons and Persons’ (1984). A crude version of that might go as follows: right actions in respect of the future are those which maximize the welfare of future generations; the atomic bombings were such a pervasive event that they affected who existed. Therefore, we should be pleased that Hiroshima happened, or there wouldn’t be a ‘we’ to be pleased. In the same way, future generations could see, for example, global warming as having been in their interest. Parfit shows that it’s not so easy to produce a knock-down rebuttal of this intuitively absurd conclusion. Perhaps Parfit’s logic can help assuage Blandy’s guilt at feeling he is in a sense the product of an atrocity…

Alejandro Ospina – fotolog/ @ IMT, Unit 2, 210 Cambridge Heath Road – Cambridge Heath

To 31 Oct:

To date IMT director Lindsay Friend and curator Mark Jackson have concentrated on conceptually-driven installations with an emphasis on sound, and Alejandro Ospina’s is the gallery's first exhibition of paintings. Most of them show semi-naked teenage girls from the artist’s native Colombia – but it is, of course, a thoughtful show rather than a titillating one, and the themes connect neatly to those at Seventeen and ROLLO. Ospina paints directly from computer monitors in a post-modern take on both the figure and still life traditions, using a rapidly painterly style and incorporating the effects of disguise or censorship in the originals, all of which are from publicly posted personal albums and tend to put the viewer in the place of the unseen mirror. The painter – far from controlling a model in the studio – is at the mercy of how his models pose themselves and of what internet search engines throw up. The paintings show how the girls want to present themselves to the world, and celebrate the power we now have to disseminate constructions of the self without technological constraint. But there is a darker note: the last painting is of Phillip Alpert, who argued with his under-18 girlfriend, distributed her naked photo widely, and was prosecuted for child pornography offences.

The inspiring book

Reanimation Library: Hackney Branch @ [ space ] , 129-131 Mare St – Hackney

To 16 Oct (but note the limited weekend opening times):

Paul Pieroni runs a highly energetic and eclectic programme at Space, with several innovative shows going on at any one time. They tend to include extensive film programmes of the sort you are more likely to plan to watch than to actually to sit through, but those run alongside more concise efforts - of which my current favourite is the eccentric-sounding ‘Reanimation Library: Hackney Branch’. That originates from a off-beat collection of books in Brooklyn which is used as a means of sparking art. In this case it leads to half a dozen entertaining pieces triggered by a 1961 Texas University volume which proposes the Holzman Inkblot Technique as a more scientific approach to personality testing than the better-known Rorschach Test. Cue such paeans to interpretative uncertainty as asking people to say what they see in the blots only to obstruct their mouths by dental damming (Hans Dienberger), the presentation of a sculpture of an inkblot through the photographic record of its only viewing before it was destroyed (Nina Beier), and one man enthusiastically sucking the prosthetic nose of another (in Richard John Jones’ 60’s gay homage ‘Jack Takes a Trip’). What can it all mean, and what does your answer tell us about your personality?

Adam Dix: The Advocates

Keep Me Posted @ Posted, 67 Wilton Way, London – Hackney

To 26 Sept:

Founding White Cube director Julia Royse has a pop-up space running through to next February in a former Post Office just west of the Hackney Empire, funded by the local council’s Empty Shops Project. The tightly packed and curated first show reflects nostalgically on the days when letter writing, local post offices and rapid delivery were the norm. Several of the 26 artists exploit the location: for example Andrea Blank has put a parcel made of stone on the weighing machine, and the mug of tea and desk top accessories on the counter prove, when one walks round to the staff side, to be hollowed out from the back for Miyo Yoshida’s ‘Absence’. It’s an enjoyable show, not least for Cate Halpin's eccentrically personal stamp album, James White’s painting of a wishfully screwed-up electricity bill, Adam Dix’s crowd in thrall to satellite dishes and Polly Morgan’s pigeon in a bottle - which might look good giant size in Trafalgar Square...

Promise 3

WITH: WITHSTORE _001 (LONDON) @ Rokeby, 5 Hatton Wall – Farringdon

To 2 Oct:

Over the past decade, the collective WITH have acted as post-modern satirists of artistic value by making bespoke ‘solutions’ which, with appropriate evidence provided, live out experiences on behalf of a client – perhaps most pointedly when they undertook to do nothing for a week on behalf of Rokeby director Beth Greeenacre, so leaving her free from her usual obligations. Now they have gone entertainingly, multiply and surreally off the shelf: WITH will be happy for you, miss meetings on your behalf, provide a scratch-off-and-see poster which allows you to recover hidden memories, or accidentally (on elaborate, health & safety-teasing purpose) smash a glass for you in performance. You often don’t know quite what you’ll get: you need to be brave to commission an encoded sex act or have them develop offensive opinions on your behalf. All fun, but not altogether fool: WITH neatly skewer our assumptions about normal social and business interactions and relationships, and have developed a distinctive graphic style to set out what they will do.

Room from 'The Coral Reef'

Mike Nelson etc @ Tate Britain - Millbank

To 3 Jan 2011:

Even setting aside the Eadweard Muybridge and Rachel Whiteread shows, Tate Britain is well worth a visit for three newish reasons: the recently refreshed rooms of work from the collection, notably Gerard Byrne's immersive film installation '1984 and Beyond'; Fiona Banner’s spectacular use of the Duveens Hall to show two jet fighter planes as found sculptures of a diving harrier and a crouching jaguar; and best of all the first British installation since 2000 of ‘The Coral Reef’, Mike Nelson’s disorienting and atmospheric fifteen room tour de force of the clashing belief systems which lie under the surface of capitalist society. In retrospect, ‘The Coral Reef’ seems remarkably prescient of the world after 9.11, and all the more menacing for that. Now if someone could just explain why Nelson – along with Tacita Dean and the Chapman Brothers, come to that, not to mention Tracey - hasn't won the Turner Prize, whereas...


Joana Vasconcelos: I Will Survive @ Haunch of Venison, 6 Burlington Gardens – Central

To 25 Sept:

Haunch of Venison’s imposing but awkward temporary space in Burlington House has proved more suited to the spectacular than the subtle, and Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos certainly doesn’t hold back in this museum-scaled retrospective. ‘The Bride’, the Duchamp-mocking chandelier out of 25,000 tampons shown at the 2005 Venice Biennale, isn’t here, though a vast knitted chandelier dominates the stairs. There are lots of animals covered in crochet, but the most effective – and spectacular – pieces are ‘Catwalk’ and ‘Garden of Eden’. The former seems to present the fragile egos of the fashion world in the form of ceramic dogs (though why not cats?) hanging from a revolving carousel. Visitors can set this turning so that the dogs swing into each other, and smash rather satisfyingly, bit by bit, into pieces. Walls have been taken out to accommodate the impressive spread of ‘Garden of Eden’, a darkroom installation of plastic flowers which glow in fibre-optic style to create a colorful landscape. 'Wow!' trumps 'why?', but I guess both are about the superficial allure and distancing undertow of the modern addiction to the artificial and, perhaps, how we have replaced ethical values with commercial ones.

Marcus Coates:
Shamanic costume, for consultation in Elephant and Castle, London 2009

Tour Suggestion: There have been some vissicitudes in the quality of galleries on Vyner Street since it emerged as an art destination, but despite the recent departure of Ibid Projects it is certainly well worth visiting at the moment. For me the highlights are Madder 139’s group show on blackness, plays on perspective at both Nettie Horn and Gooden, a concise (and film-free) survey of Marcus Coates in his debut show for Kate MacGarry, and Ciprian Muresan’s frightening puppet film at Wilkinson. And then Space, as above, is the merest bus-hop north up Mare Street...

Still showing from previous lists:

Gelitin to 15 Sept, Alice Neel to 17 Sept, Sally Mann to 19 Sept, Alex Katz to 21 Sept, Chelpa Ferro to 30 Sept. gives full address and opening time details of most shows


Here are ten shows I'm looking forward to:

Kengo Kita @ Daiwa: 13.9 – 11.10
Jason Martin @ FAS Contemporary: 15.9 – 7.10
Sadegh Tirafkan @ Selma Feriani: 15.9 – 27.11
Dig Down in Time @ Man & Eve: 16.9 - 23.10
Elina Brotherus @ Wapping Project Bankside: 16.9 – 23.10
Knopp Ferro @ Maddox Arts 16.9 – 13.10
Nathaniel Rackowe @ Bischoff / Weiss: 17.9 – 20.10
Nina Beier @ Laura Bartlett: 16.9 – 23.10
Gary Fabian Miller @ Hacklebury: 23.9 – 29.1
Paola Pivi @ Carlson: 25.9 – 31.10

Photo credits: relevant artists and galleries

About Me

My photo
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.