There's some interesting but rarely-seen older work around at the moment: we start in the 1960’s, edge forward to the 80’s and carry on with a dose of vinyl before we hit the fully contemporary - only to find they're in the form of TV, well past its heyday, are constructed out of previous times, or hark back indirectly to the past. And that's not to mention Erica Eyres' take on the 80's soap 'Dallas' at Rokeby or the Barbican's return to New York in the 70's...
La Vedova Blu
‘…a multitude of soap bubbles which explode from time to time….’
Pino Pascali’s Final Works, 1967 – 1968 @ Camden Arts Centre
4 March – 1 May: www.camdenartscentre.org
The way in which the Italian arte povera artists used everyday materials remains highly influential in current practice, but Pino Pascali (1936-68) has hardly been seen in Britain despite his prominent role at the start of the movement, and despite – or is it because of? – his glamorous lifestyle and potentially myth-making early death in a motorcycle crash. His work was wildly various, and often not all that povera, but this show includes his most consistent set of sculptures: those which made up – though for a mere two days before he withdrew them in protest at police responses to student unrest – Pascali’s presentation at the Venice Biennale in 1968. It's a startlingly fresh show, conceptually and materially (even though it uses lots of steel wool, which should by rights have disintegrated by now). There's something right, for example, about the wrongness of a six-legged spider...
Larry Clark: What Do You Do For Fun? @ Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley St - Central
To 2 April: www.simonleegallery.com
Former Vietnam veteran, junkie, convict… and photographer of babies for the family business, Larry Clark found notoriety forty years ago by photographing the casual gun, drug and sex culture of Oklahoma teenagers. His motivation was to show what wouldn’t otherwise have been seen, and if he inspired ‘heroin chic’, then, he says, that was merely because he wanted to make his friends look good. Simon Lee is showing an hour of previously unseen sixties film footage plus a wide range of Clark’s collages – from photos by his mother to his name tattooed on his lover’s pubis, from magazine clippings to 209 vintage prints in a wall-wide bank. The earliest are readable now as staging posts between straight photography and Clark maintaining his interests by making films featuring subsequent generations’ adolescents.
‘T1982-H15’, 1982 - actually in the store, not the show, but you can ask to see it...
Hans Hartung: The Final Years 1980-89 @ Timothy Taylor Gallery, 15 Carlos Place - Mayfair
10 March – 9 April: www.timothytaylorgallery.com
The Franco-German abstractionist Hans Hartung (1980-89) found fame for paintings which magnified small drawings into monumentality, then turned to direct large scale expressionism. By the 1980s, when this show starts, he was using a pebble-dashing tool, garden rakes and olive branches as brushes. Following a stroke in 1986 he turned, weak and wheelchair-bound, wholly to spraying machines, with which he developed an energetic language of mist, clouds, drips and doodles. With the help of several assistants, he made a remarkable number of large canvases (360 in 1989). Are they a mechanistic coda in which Hartung’s own role was limited, or ultramodern contrasts between the infinite sublime and inner torment? Here’s a chance to decide.
Book installation at 10 Woburn Walk
Gerard Williams: The Collected Works @ Handel Street Projects, 19-21 Sicilian Avenue - Holborn
To 31 March: www.handelstreetprojects.com
Handel Street Projects features the somewhat under-the-radar Gerard Williams. Onsite, he has embedded three windows into the gallery interior, one of them a hundred years old and looking it. Behind them lie various items, triggering our imagination / prejudices to construct an account of the putative inhabitant. Offsite, Williams has turned three empty shops into monuments to outdated consumer aspiration through window displays of recessionary excess (proving, perhaps, the zeitgeist, Anita Zabludovic also has an empty shop project at present; and an interesting comparison is with Barnaby Furnas’ paintings at Stuart Shave: multi-armed characters simultaneously smoking scores of cigarettes).
Gustavo Murillo: Blue
Jessica Herrington: 'Cave' & Gustavo Murillo: 'MacroTelevision' @ WW Gallery, 30 Queensdown Rd, Hackney
3-6 March (Herrington) & 11-27 March (Murillo): www.wilsonwilliamsgallery.com
The WW Gallery’s ‘art supermarket’ made a good impression at the London Art Fair, and the positive vibe should continue in March. Australian artist Jessica Herrington’s ‘Cave’ of crystalline growth conjured from ephemera will be something of a woman-made rapid-result antipode to Roger Hiorns’ room-filling copper sulphate growth ‘Seizure’ (2009-10). It’s followed by Spanish photographer Gustavo Murillo's series using a macro lens to magnify parts of television pictures, reducing them to op/pop/ phosphor dot abstractions which stand as ciphers of the underlying image while reflecting gallery-goers as if the screen were turned off.
Study for Caerleon I
Alan Rankle @ Pertwee Anderson & Gold, 15 Bateman St – Soho
To 24 March: www.pertweeandersongold.com
The new Soho gallery Pertwee Anderson & Gold adopts the theatrically-lit style of presentation associated with All Visual Arts, and kicks off its ground level space by hosting AVA artist Kate MccGwire’s intricate constructions out of bird feathers. Downstairs, albeit less suited to the spotlighting, is a welcome London showing for Alan Rankle’s intoxicatingly painterly manipulations of landscapes tradition. Rankle, better-known internationally than in his native England, fuses old master and abstract styles and techniques in the interests of cutting across our viewing habits and exploring changing attitudes to the environment.
Susanne Kühn: Garden Eden @ Haunch of Venison,6 Burlington Gardens - Central
To 2 April: www.haunchofvenison.com
Leipzig-trained Susanne Kühn spent seven years in America before returning to her native Germany, which may help explain the complexities of pattern and space in her large and multiply-styled paintings. My favourites here set figures and a plethora of other elements, often with sly art historical references, amid architectural spaces borrowed from renaissance masterpieces. They somehow end up feeling organized rather than overcrowded, and also enact a movement from abstraction up close to realism at a middle distance to abstraction again when you’re far enough away in Haunch’s big spaces for their allover rhythms to take control.
Emma Hart: JAM @ Cell Project Space, 258 Cambridge Heath Rd – Cambridge Heath
10 March – 17 April (Fri-Sun): www.cellprojects.org
Video and performance artist Emma Hart attempted to predict the future – i.e. where she would be standing next – in ‘Arrows’. Her own future prospects are improving: having featured in ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries’, this show at Cell precedes a new project at Matt’s Gallery in the autumn. Hart combines a consciously intrusive camera – which pokes inside a sofa in search of the hidden in ‘Lost’ – with a winning style of voice-over commentary. She relays the ups and downs of her battle against the sea in ‘Dice’ (will the tide’s arrival trump her throw?) while ‘Car Crash’ co-opts table tops to explain how traffic accidents happen.
Tales from the Estuary
Emma Talbot in 'Told' @ Hales Gallery to 2 April, & in 'Me and My Shadow' @ Kate MacGarry, 11 March - 17 April
Perhaps this is the time to be an Emma, as Talbot has two shows running in March, both with two other women. Her half-doll, half-cartoon figures look as if they’ve stepped out of the 1950’s or 60’s rather than her own coming of age in the 1980’s. They transmit emotion without the need for faces – especially once you know that they often present scenes from her life before the premature death of her husband. Her recent work develops fragmented narratives, strip style, on her biggest scale yet.
Phillip Allen: Capital P @ The approach, 47 Approach Road – Cambridge Heath
To 13 March: www.theapproach.co.uk
The invite for Phillip Allen’s fifth show with The approach grabs attention with a found photo of a terribly over-burdened donkey. What gloomily times-matching new direction is this? But it turns out you still know where you are with Phil: the abstracted contrasts of geometric, organic and cartoonish; the colours multiple and free if a shade more muted; the border territories of multi-layered paint swirls built up like flowers; the sense of something nearly being said, to quote another Phil… all are present and correct along with the elegant - if slightly perverse - departure of oil paint drawings on watercolour paper. But do I need unfamiliarity to enjoy this? No, I don’t…
Photo credits: courtesy of relevant galleries and artists and Benjamin Beker (Handel Street).