Saturday, 31 March 2012


The best show in London now is the exemplary Boetti survey at Tate Modern (to 27 May) and it has two very worthwhile pendants: three floors (used for the first time) of neatly complementary works at Spruth Magers (to 31 March)  and Gavin Turk’s homage at Ben Brown (to 20 April). Another fine group of three shows are spread across the two Lisson spaces: Dan Grahams’s pavilions,  Jorinde Voigt’s striking full UK debut (see my New York recommendations) and a particularly inventive set of explorations by Spencer Finch (all three to 28 April).  Once you’ve seen those six (!), I also recommend the following, which similarly fail to feature paintings… the late Dubuffet show at Waddington would be my choice for those who want some.

Ximena Garrido-Lecca: Paisaje Antrópico @ Max Wigram Gallery, 106 New Bond St – Central

To 5 May:

Young London-based Peruvian Ximena Garrido-Lecca makes realistic versions of objects you might find in the street in her homeland – a fountain, a gate, a wall, a fence out of oil drums - but infects them with symbolic and historical resonance (Doris Salcedo came to mind). The undertones in these ‘anthropic landscapes’ are made explicit in striking footage of the ‘Blood Festival’ from a Peruvian village: a condor is strapped to the back of a bull, and a battle ensues in which the bird pecks and the beast tries to shake it off – or its brains fatally about. According to Ximena, the odds favour the bull – but the ritual is more controlled nowadays, partly because the condor is an endangered species.

'Crucifixes for Various Amphibians', 2000 - a boyhood collection of lolly sticks...
Marcus Coates: ‘Proxy’ @ Kate MacGarry, 27 Old Nichol St – Shoreditch

To 14 April:

Marcus Coates develops links between human and animal worlds in a manner at once plausible and playful. This diverse survey of his unusual practice opens with a Spotted Eagle Ray, filmed as an exemplar of an ability to inhabit alternative realities which might help us to resolve inner conflicts. The show then conjures with such alternatives as the space taken up by a running wolf, translated for spiritual purposes into a surprisingly sleek plinth-like form; the artist disguised by means of shaving foam as twenty species of British moth; and a range of wild faeces charmed into bronze. It’s an enjoyable way to ponder how far we’ve come from our natural roots, and how we might seek a reconnection.

Roger Ackling: High Noon @ Annely Juda, 23 Dering St – Central

To 28 April:

For forty years Roger Ackling born (1947) has been using a magnifying glass to burn the sun into geometric patterns on found items or pieces of wood. Thus, ritualistic process meets minimalist language to produce altered readymades which take art out of the studio to interact with the environment. The results are harmonious, surprisingly varied, and bring a certain wit to the deconstruction of objects’ original purposes, for what is of lasting use in the context of the solar time which is inscribed by the sun’s path? So Ackling starts with a boyhood game and turns it by sheer persistence into his own route to eternity.

Santo Tolone: Three Times Once @ Limoncello

To 28 April:

Perversely enough, in this last show at the small and narrow Limocello space before a move to larger quarters, there are three invigilators at all times! That’s by way of a performance rather than Gagosianic security, and forms one part of a witty show made up of three sets of works which almost repeat themselves. They all play with presenting ‘meanings deprived of their original signifiers’: the locations of peppercorns in a salami which has gone; elements of public sculptures removed from their context; an erection responding to a porn film we can’t see… Tolone, by the way, is a young Italian artist, and not – as I’d thought likely – another outcrop of Ryan Gander, though I dare say there are three of him…

From 'Dust of Stars', 2007/09

Franz Erhard Walther: DRAWINGS - Frame / Line / Action / Drawn Novel @ The Drawing Room, 12 Rich Estate, Crimscott Street - Bermondsey

To 28 April:

The Drawing Room’s spacious new premises – handily close to White Cube’s new Bermondsey outpost – allow for a comprehensive look at fifty years of the influential German Franz Erhard Walther’s drawing-driven practice. There are experiments with materials, including the striking ‘air enclosures’ between two sheets of paper; documentation and ‘instruments’ from drawing actions in the landscape; and 71 selected memories from the remarkable 524 sheet cycle ‘Dust of Stars’ (2007-09), which combines drawing and diaristic writing (translations available) to track Walther’s personal, cultural and artistic development with a winning mixture of charm and obsession.

Linda Aloysius: New Model Army @ Madder 139, 137-13 Whitecross St – Barbican

To 28 April:

Back in her original premises, Debbie Carslaw hosts a standing army – no reclining nudes here - of 14 life-size women, who assert themselves with considerable vim, cartoonish individuality and not a little well-aimed vulgarity against the historically male zones of the building industry (in which Aloysius has herself worked) and monumental statuary. The fun is in the wittily economical spontaneity of that deconstruction.The opening salvo, which combines concrete high heels with a cement bag head-come-cover in mocking reference to a term of abuse which might be shouted from a scaffold, seems to be heading out of the gallery to admonish any such taunters.

nudes dr02

Thomas Ruff @ Gagosian Galleries - Central & King's Cross

To 21 April:

Thomas Ruff, a master of presenting images sourced at one remove, applies himself to the stuff of fantasy across both Gagosian spaces. Britannia Street concentrates on the science fiction standby of Mars, sourcing images from NASA and modulating colour and scale and in some cases introducing 3D effects to move them towards sculptural abstraction. The starting point in the smaller Davies Street space is Internet pornography: new additions to a long-running series which looks to build up an etymology of sexual possibilities from a source Ruff regards as more honest than artistic nude photographs, and inject them all with an unexpected beauty by manipulating the pixels. Add extracts from two other series, and you good feel for Ruff’s consistently diverse practice.


Boo Ritson: On the Way to the Ocean @ Poppy Sebire, 6 Copperfield St – Southwark

To 5 May:

Here Boo Ritson – present as a winningly wide-eyed Plasticine avatar – is doubly brave, eschewing her signature application of paint to people and adopting the low art status medium of Photoshop, which she uses with knowingly sculptural obviousness. Continuities with her earlier work include the interplay of depth and surface and an ongoing fascination with the American Dream: we travel from dawn to dusk through a cycle of iconic western landscapes, all of which turn out to be made up from Ritson’s photographs of England. Once you realise that, it’s like walking behind a film set, giving the optimistic exploration a troubling aspect even before we happen on a snake in Eden and a Styxian finale…

International Lawns (Regional Aesthetics 1)
 Andrew Curtis: House Plants @ PayneShurvell, 16 Hewett St – Shoreditch

To 28 April (talk 12 April):

On to English atmospherics: Andrew Curtis’ first show at PayneShurvell, ‘Wild England’, introduced a sinister edge to suburbia by simultaneously censoring and emphasising trees so that they took on an alien presence. His new series, ‘International Lawns’, does something related to architectural photographs by covering the windows with household enamel as if they were garage doors. Curtis also introduces a negative equivalent: exotic garden plants are left isolated as everything else in the image is voided by the intricately rhythmic accretions of black Rotring ink (which you have to see up close to appreciate), so isolating decisions of taste while negating the domestic in favour of the unknown...

Fernando Casasempere: Out of Sync @ Somerset House, The Strand - Central

To 27 April (08.00 – 23.00 daily):

Somerset House is triply worth a visit in April. London-based Chilean Fernando Casasempere has filled the freshly-grassed courtyard of the Fountain Court with 10,000 rhythmically-spaced ceramic flowers. Their browns and creams, derived from the Atacama desert, make for an attractive and more reliable alternative to natural blooms. The Crisis Commission charity auction show for the homeless (to 22 April) is also excellent: the stand-out lots are Tracey Emin’s painted drawings of herself naked and blue, Bob and Roberta Smith’s alternative kite, and Nika Neelova’s whole room multi-parting merry-go-round of doors cast from the building’s own Georgian portals. And the excellent Mondrian – Nicholson show carries on till 20 May at the Courtauld.

Images courtesy of the the relevant galleries and artists + Franz Erhard Walther Foundation / VG-Bild-Kunst, Bonn (Walther) except Somerset House - my photo in which my wife and mother unobtrusively appear!

Sunday, 18 March 2012


There’s more art in New York than anywhere else, and Armory week boasted several fairs as well as the usual 50-odd institutional spaces, some of them huge, and over 400 commercial galleries - roughly half in Chelsea, a quarter mid-town and on the upper east side, and a quarter down town in the more recently thriving Soho / Bowery area. Pretty hard to narrow to ten plus an out of town bonus, but here goes...

Lot 12281 (the double extension)

 Donald Moffett: The Radiant Future @ Marianne Boesky Gallery – Chelsea

To April 7:

Several New York galleries are showing abstract paintings which emphasised their objecthood (I also liked James Busby at Stux, Michiel Ceulars at Anna Cristea and Zak Prekop at Harris Lieberman). Donald Moffett may have taken that furthest. He had already established a repertoire of holes, together with a similarly fetishistic way of extruding paint into a texture like artificial grass. Now he extends the holes into tunnels through contraptions which hold the paintings away from the wall, feeling that the wall ‘has let him down’ as a place to put paintings.

Martin Roth: Untitled (Persian Rugs) @ Louis B. James, 143b Orchard St

To 14 April:

On to real grass: downstairs at this young gallery the New York based Austrian artist Martin Roth, whose CV includes releasing crickets as a sound piece and turning his studio into a bird retreat, had persuaded it to grow through Persian carpets. This - especially after seeing Moffett’s show – seemed a further step in radicalising the painting process as well as combining inside / outside and nature / culture in a way which reminded me of Walter de Maria’s nearby Earth Room, which Dia still maintains. And Wardell Milan, upstairs at Louis B. James, is also interesting.

The Hot Winds That Blow From The West
Bharti Kher: The Hot Winds That Blow from the West @ Hauser & Wirth, 32 East 69th St.

To 14 April:

Newcastle-born Indian Bharti Kher swells domestic concerns to fabulous size and fabulent effect. There are fresh variations on her characteristic use of bindis, some on shattered mirrors, some on a found staircase reaching only to the ceiling. The title work is a room of old American radiators which Kher assured me really had been shipped to India and back, picking up an aura as well as shipping costs along the way. Bodes well for her biggest British showing yet – at the Parasol Unit in September…

Polly Apfelbaum: ‘Flatland: Colour Revolt’ @ The Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden,
511 West 20th St 

To 28 April: 

This gallery, small by New York standards, is packed with tables on which which Polly Apfelbaum has arranged explosions of colour and glitter which can be moved only with great horizontal care. Adventurous, but consistent with her previous conflations of painting and installation through fabric works on the floor. The result was startling and beautiful enough that the 'revolts' were selling despite the challenges of moving and displaying them.
Task Chair

Jeanne Silverthorne: Peripheral Vision @ McKee Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue

To 18 April:

Jeanne Silverthorne mines her 19th century Soho studio as a physical, emotional and creative place through thirty new sculptures, made in clay after the studio’s features then cast in silicone rubber to haunting effect. They include floor pieces with grow-through dandelions, a light bulb with a genuinely circling moth, a series of storage crates (are they the work or its containers?) and - slightly more off kilter - sticks of dynamite, and the abstract presentation of offcut globs of rubber. Peripheral, perhaps, but peculiarly affecting.

Divine Ricochet, 1991
John Chamberlain: Choices @ the Guggenheim, 1071 Fifth Avenue

To May 13:
My favourite among the major shows was the timely retrospective of John Chamberlain (1927-2011) at the Gugggenheim. A chronological spiral up the ramp revealed more variation than I had expected from the his base of combining junked cars: the addition of expressive colour to the found elements from 1972 onwards, crushed box and foam works which foreground process, smaller works made from Tonka toys, the late adoption of a more minimalist chrome and white palette using only selected parts of the cars, and alumnium foil works. It all looked tremendous.

Jorinde Voigt @ David Nolan Gallery, 527 W 29th St

To 28 April:

When I asked how to spot upcoming German artist Jorinde Voigt at her crowded opening, I was told she looked like a model – tall and beautiful with a trendy short haircut. So it proved, and her work is just as striking: cool objects and intricately annotated rhythmic drawings which pull you in whether or not you follow through on the complex intellectual algorithms which underpin them. The Lisson Gallery brings an overview of her previous work to England 21 March - 28 April .
Odalisque, 1980

Francesca Woodman: The Blueprints @ Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th Street

To 28 April:
Francesca Woodman, who killed herself aged only 22 in 1981, is having something of a posthumous moment in New York. That includes a retrospective at the Guggenheim; her largest single work, 'Blueprint for a Temple', on show at the Met; and this broader exploration of her blueprints (ie photographs, drawings and texts run through an architects' blueprint machine) from the summer of 1980. They're actually sepia and purple as well as blue, and combine zig-zag motifs with a broader cultural references than the  intimate black and white photographs for which she's best-known. Is the myth too big for the work? Perhaps not.

Jonathan Horowitz: Self-portraits in Mirror #1 @ Gavin Brown’s enterprise, 620 Greenwich St 

To 21 April:

What looks at first like a room full of those Lichtenstein mirror paintings which combine a metaphor for painting with a paradoxical failure to reflect proves to be a series of copies made by Horowitz and 19 other artists from a small image of the original. Consequently the results are rather variable, emphasising the differences of hand and eye. Thus, they constitute self-portraits of a sort, leaving their multiply-unreflected viewers to ponder where they stand.

Sails, 1986
Dan Flavin: Drawings @ the Morgan Library, 225 Madison Avenue

To 1 July:

This is a surprisingly broad and fascinating account of the role of drawing in Flavin’s life: his early use of it to teach himself; plans for possible light pieces; records – by others under his supervision – of finished installations; impressively economical portraits, landscapes and seascapes he sketched for pleasure; and items from his own collection of master drawings with a comparable emphasis on the exploratory rather than the finely worked.

Jean-Luc Moulène: La Vigie @ Dia Beacon

To 31 Dec:

A pleasant 75 minute train trip north brings you to Beacon, where the Dia Foundation has spectacularly converted a factory to show its mass holdings of Flavin, LeWitt, Serra, Bourgeios, Knoebel, Heizer, Martin, Beuys etc in ideal conditions. I was also impressed by the temporary exhibition of French artist Jean-Luc Moulène, especially ‘La Vigie’ (‘The Lookout Man’) a series of 299 photos telling the seven year(!) story of the life of a Parisian weed and its surroundings near the Ministry for the Economy, Industry and Employment. We see the weed flourishing and cut back in turn, an outsider dealing with hostility…

Images courtesy of the 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.