Thursday 8 January 2015


Leila Jeffreys: Wild Cockatoos @ Purdy Hicks, 65 Hopton Street - Bankside

To 10 Jan:

Jeffreys flew over from Australia to be with her birds, here ‘Neville’ Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo (often seen as the most beautiful of them) and ‘Bob’ Long-Billed Corella (an old-stager with a broken beak).

You might expect a species by species account of bird families to yield a Becher-style objective typology, but Leila Jeffreys admires photographers who capture emotion, and it shows: her spectacular bigger-than-life portraits of the Cacatuidae come with her stories of the individuals, and spark with a life attributable to her patient methods. She introduces carefully selected cockies over several hours into a sympathetically prepared mobile studio, and talks to them continuously – exciting ‘Pete’ so much that his crest almost engulfs his face.  Owls - in a separte room - require a different approach, and Jefferys has the complexities of bower birds in mind as one future possibility. A neat compare and contrast is with Hiroshi Sugimoto’s immersive photographs of museum dioramas at Pace…

'Pete' Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo


João Onofre: Tacet @ Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle Street - Central

Tacet, 2014
. Still from single channel HD video

João Onofre likes to generate music from paradoxical nojunctions, and thid show centres on a performance of the notorious 4’33’’, for which John Cage's only instruction is 'tacet' - it is silent.  Ambient sounds are a large part of Cage's point, but here they come from the piano and with some spectacle as the pianist sets it alight. Other works with a strong sense of time passing complete show: the seasonal medium of a haiku embossed on the Portuguese parliament; wind chimes tuned to the notes D.E.A.D. in reference to a 1968 Bruce Nauman piece; and a large aquatint,in which binary code for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, takes on a calendar-like formation.

Tacet, 2014
. Still from single channel HD video

Elina Brotherus:12 ans après @ Wapping Project, Mallett, Ely House, 37 Dover St

Le Reflet, 1999

The Wapping Project, having relocated impressively to the top of Ely House in Mayfair, shows selections from two linked series of work by the Elina Brotherus, a photographer who splits her time between her native Finland and France. The first series (Suite françaises, 1999) documents her residency in Chalon-sur-Saône, aged 27, and includes the post-it slips from her efforts to learn French. She loves to play with reflections and the part-hidden, and the way her face is covered by the word ‘Le Reflet’ typifies that. In 12 ans après, 2014, Brotherus has returned to the school where she studied, looking back at 40 in a sort of time travel experiment with a strong undertow of melancholy – but also of wit, repurposing the post-it notes, and beauty: concentrating on landscapes and interiors, her eye for colour is clear through the necessarily deliberate means of her heavy and old-fashioned tripod-mounted camera.

 La Chambre 10 (Le reflet), 2012


Jonathan Parsons @ New Art Projects, 17 Riding House Street - Fitzrovia 

To 22 Dec:

Break of Day, 2014

Jonathan Parsons’ ever-evolving colour and process experiments generate alluring aesthetics. Break of Day is perhaps the most complex: Parsons has let white paint cascade down a grid of canvasses on a grey ground which causes the edges to blend seamlessly with their shadow on the wall. You can still see the raw white in the top strip and the intersticial traces, but most of that casual dripping has been painstakingly painted over in sequenced sets of primary colours. Most of the show plays related gamesis on circular panels of birchwood, blending chance, deliberation and colour theory to draw the viewer into the mildly paradoxical pleasure of  decoding narratives in abstraction.

Parsons demonstrates the usefulness of White (Dark/Light Spectrum), 2013 - as a halo!


Ben Nicholson @ Richard Green, 33 New Bond St & Francesca Simon: Site Lines @ Beardsmore Gallery, 23-24 Prince of Wales Road - Kentish Town
To 19 Dec (Nicholson)

Ben Nicholson: June 1960 (stone goblet)
If you savour the prospect of nine superb Ben Nicholson paintings spanning forty years of shifting angles on the organic geometry of landscape - and why wouldn't you? – then I also recommend Francesca Simon's show. She applies a related language to a modern urban setting: the elegant, largely muted, layered and scraped back gesso and acrylic surfaces in the neatly punning Site Lines are all derived from her studio's view out over the ongoing construction of Crossrail. That's made clear by the accompanying photographs, in which you can identify the double girder crane source of the comparatively strident yellow which animates most of the works. Moreover, you can see the ghosts of previous compositions - like those of previous buildings –  where the top surface is slightly raised. If you need to deal in the odd thousand rather than hundreds or millions, then a Simon may appeal. Having said which, I rather like the eccentrically vertical and voluptuous negatively articulated goblet above, which at £85,000 is 5-10% of the price of a top-valued example.

Francesca Simon: False Construct 1, 2014 


David Hammons @ White Cube, Mason’s Yard – Central

To 3 Jan 2015
               Untitled, 2014

This economical first London survey of Hammons’ oppositional practice brings the street into the gallery as a way of exposing – yet working with – its assumptions. Upstairs, dirt is bounced onto the ‘basketball drawings’ which conjoin arte povera to politics of Hammon’s early body print works, with the role of basketball as black youths’ escape (and the titular pun on ‘travelling’ as carrying the ball too far) pointed up by hidden suitcases. Downstairs, art history (in the form of abstract expressionist canvasses) is almost obliterated by tarpaulin coverings, strategic holes allowing some voyeuristic glimpses. And in something of a reverse of dirt manoeuvre, a fur coat is spoiled (or is its value increased?) by Hammons painting on it.

Ground floor gallery with basketball drawings

Gerhard Richter: @ Marian Goodman Gallery, 5-8 Lower John St – Central

To 20 Dec:

25.6.2008, oil on photograph
Enough new foreign galleries are opening in Mayfair that one might get blasé…   but Marian Goodman’s is heroically scaled, and kicks off with a refreshing account of Richter’s recent work: not the auction-friendly strands of scraped abstracts or blurred photo-realism, but...  

* a seven-pane glass sculpture;

* eight of the rigorously self-deconstructing photo-derived ‘Strip’ versions of his own painting, the biggest ten metres wide; 

* nine explorations of the grey monochrome, with oil on board, oil on glass and enamel behind glass showing their different effects;  

* eleven ‘Flow' paintings – multi-coloured pools of paint, its movement stilled by being trapped beneath glass; 

* a particularly good set of 17 small oil on photograph works; and 

* four colour-square works, cheekily installed to hint at the even grander space in which Richter has employed the motif in stained glass. This Adjaye-designed gallery isn’t quite Cologne Cathedral, but is closer than most...

Flow 933-3, 2013


Artie Vierkant: Antoine Office, Antoine Casual @ Carl Kostyál, 12a Savile Row – Central


New York based Artie Vierkant is among the best-known of the young artists explicitly working with the influence of the Internet. His second London solo show – in Carl Kostyál's contrasting wood-panelled space - constructs ‘Antoine’ in office and leisure dress, then animates him, via stock motion capture data, through a succession of short extracts from the body movements of others. Until you know that, it's hard to pin down what’s odd about Antoine's movements. On the wall are grey near-abstracts which turn out to be flat files of the clothing maps used to clad the digital Antoines - and all within the constraints of patents licensed by Vierkant in order to make intellectual property one of the work's materials. The data, it might be said, also comes in formal and casual modes, and the result has the sci-fi feel of a time in which we might borrow bodies as easily as clothes. 


Darwin's Dream @ the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church - Euston

Koen Vanmechelen in The Crypt (photo by Alex Deyaert)

The extensive crypt under St Pancras Church holds an overview of the fascinatingly eccentric Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen. Over two decades and 18 generations, he’s been breeding gallus gallus as a rigourously structured analogy for human society: the aim is to demonstrate the benefits of diversity by successively combining national characteristics to produce the ultimate ‘Cosmopolitan Chicken’. Often, he includes live chickens in installations, but here we have a Himalayan jungle and a pond recreating the natural environments from which they have become the most transformed of animals; giant photographs and stuffed chickens demonstrating the breeding programme; Vanmechelen eating chicken; sculptures out of glass eggs - and chickens in conversation, presumably about how they become art.  

Mechelse Silky

Pedro Cabrita Reis: The London Angles @ Sprovieri, 23 Heddon Street - Central

To 6 Dec:

The London Angles, 2014

As a collateral event, having represented  Portugal officially in 2003, Pedro Cabrita Reis made one of the best installations of the last Venice Biennale. He's been little shown in London, though, making this a welcome chance to see his typical constructions of architectural elements and integrated light, playing with the experience and energies of viewing in space. There are also newer streams of work: sculptures which play off the columns of Sprovirei’s main gallery to create – in the subsidiary room -  the eponymous ‘London Angles’, in which the object is light and its apparent shadow an object; and monochrome paintings which deflect attention to their architectural framing, the inside of which turns out to be the most painterly element. It’s all beautifully judged.

unframed #7, 2014 -  enamel on aluminium, double glass, MDF, armature, fluorescent light and electric cable



Suspicion @ the Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street - Bankside

Benjamin Senior: Grey Studio, 2014

The Jerwood Space provides an unusually complete package: an interesting curatorial position from Dan Coombs, spinning off a scene from Hitchcock; a short story which takes that in an entertaining new direction; and a good selection of painters, including Benjamin Senior’s weird integrations of figures with their surroundings, Damien Mead’s subtle take on the Janus double, Geraldine Swayne’s spookily intimate focus on women who may have been murderees, and Cavadonga Valdes’ car mysteriously parked in ivy - not forgetting the curator’s own distortions, the latest in his paintings from collages made up of images distorted by a photocopier (if you like that sort of thing, there’s another reason to check out Take Modern’s Polke show).

Damien Meade: Janus, 2013

KP Brehmer: Real Capital–Production @ Raven Row, 56 Artillery Lane - Liverpool St

To 30 Nov:

Correction of National Colours, Measured by Distribution of Wealth, 1972 (black = middle class, red = remaining households, yellow = big business)
KP Brehmer (1938-97) may be less famous than fellow 1960’s German  ‘Capitalist Realists’  Polke and Richter, but his work is more fully attuned to the name: this superbly organised  retrospective focuses on work which might be said to attempt to draw attention to the underlying and often subconscious influence of capital on society by making it visible. That takes the form of graphs (of gold prices, the feelings of workers, vacancies and joblessness etc), maps (the world reconfigured to show only those nations with adequate resources) and the West German flag redesigned to show the distribution of eathlth through the width of its bands). And there’s plenty more, illuminated by a stand-out catalogue essay from Mark Fisher: abstract versions of ideal landscapes; installations of pop imagery;  diaristic film; postage stamps blown up big, as a sociology of art…

Ideal Landscape: Meditation Wedge, 1:10, 1969

Piers Secunda: The Rise of Oil @ Jessica Carlisle, 83 Kinnerton Street - Hyde Park / Knightsbridge

Sarah Adams @ The Maas Gallery,15 A Clifford Street - Central

To 23 Nov (Secunda) 
     29 Nov (Adams)

Piers Secunda:  A Texas Well, 1928, 2013, Texas crude oil and varnish on industrial floor paint with cast paint nuts and bolts in bespoke frame

Rocks may be slow-moving, but you’ll have to act fast to catch these two short-run geologically-tinged shows in spaces somewhat off the usual contemporary beat. Piers Secunda’s images of the heroic age of oil exploration – made with oil from the relevant source on industrial floor paint, which is itself a related product – merge conceptual rigour and still-relevant history.   The Maas Gallery's only living artist specialises with Morandi-like concsistency, on rocks and caves around the Cornish coast. The tide coming in, for example,  would be a seismic shift, yet her own ongoing excitement comes across in this latest sell-out show. A  repeated wet on dry process allows for a layered spontaneity which parallels the geological processes being depicted, and calls to mind abstraction and Lyonel Feininger as well as the 19th century romantic tradition.

Sarah Adams: Newtrain quartz formation, 201


...and the stage darkens (or this voice is a big whale) @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place - Tottenham Court Rd

To 22 Nov:

Franz Walther lithograph, 1974

Seven artists on proprioception immediately sounds like a great idea to me. I’m not sure, having said that, this show delivers the premise – we’re never disoriented – but it is by turns seminal, funny and hypnotic. Seminal: a portfolio by Franz Erhard Walther, the 75 year old German who preceded Franz West and Bruce Nauman into the body zone. Funny: Ryan Gander sets a lion to play  in an open cube by Sol Lewitt; Laure Provost installs a video face down to the floor, and wishes in her OTT French accent that ‘the work was deeper’:.. Hypnotic: the way Haroon Mirza’s triple stack of would-be-banal videos of a Tesco filmed from a car at night  interact. A copper wire picks up the fluctuations in the lower scene, turns them into a fuzzing signal on screen two, which drives the flickering Tesco sign at the top. The off-kilter process put me in mind of the store's profit mis-statements, but then I am an accountant. The title is from Peter Shaffer's ‘Black Comedy’, in whihc the audience sees the actors when they act as in darkness, and is in total darkness when the actors can see...

Laure Prouvost


Paul Nash: Watercolours 1920-46 @ Piano Nobile, 129 Portland Road - Holland Park

To 22 Nov:
Ruined Country: Old Battlefield, Vimy, near La Folle Wood , 1917-18

Paul Nash has no rival as an artist who captured both world wars, and there’s no doubt about what his art owes to the experience of conflict.  Yet the landscape, modernised and psychologised (wounded ground, erotic trees) is what drives Nash’s uniquely persuasive combination of English and modern, and what better way to show that than through the immediacy of his watercolours?  Piano Nobile has somehow gathered 35 of the highest quality, and commissioned David Boyd Hancock to write the exemplary catalogue. Quite possibly the best value show in London: £50,000 would secure you what I suspect is the passing fad of a David Ostrowski, or the perky ambiguities of ‘Comment on Leda’, 1935… 

Comment on Leda, 1935


Justin Adian: Strangers @ Skarstedt Gallery, 23 Old Bond Street - Central

To Nov 22:

Bellini, 2014  oil enamel and spray paint on ester foam and canvas

American artist Justin Adian’s  first UK exhibition is in line with current trends in deconstructing painting (yet again! – see, e.g. the 12 strong 'Beware Wet Paint!' at the ICA). His bulging, shaped, glossy canvases – often combines – go halfway to sculpture in their anti-traditional form. Add in his titles, though, and they turn out to have more figurative origins than you’d have thought,  pricking the seriousness with which, say, Mondrian and Malevich are regarded. ‘Bikini’, 'Baffle' and the creased but intact 'Never Break' are among the knock-about titles. The jokes are consistent with the material: the canvas is wrapped around the sort of foam in which paintings are normally transported – so they are in a way the packaging of art moved inside to masquerade as art.  


Celia Hempton: Chat Random @ Southard Reid, 7 Royalty Mews (off Dean St) - Soho

To 22 Nov:

Aldo and Jesi, Albania, 16th-august 2014
Celia Hempton has made a splash with a colourful and intimate paintings of those close to her. This new stream of work complements that by depicting 'live' 40 contrastingly anonymous subjects taken from her own interactions on the Internet site Chat Random. These reverse the usual power relationship between artist and model, as the model can terminate the process at any point. Sized to her computer screen, they are all male and often sexual – that’s the nature of the site - and she's forced to work fast, faced by the chance aspect of when she will have to consider the painting finished. That helps energise and vary the resulting combination of digital and painterly worlds.


London is having a something of a Japanese moment:  Yoshimoto Nara at the Dairy and Shinro Ohtake at Parasol unit probably need little introduction, but there’s also Aiko Miyanaga at the newly opened Japanese-run White Rainbow, and,  at Berloni, the fruit of Carl Randall’s ten years of living in Tokyo.

Aiko Miyanaga - Strata: Origins @ White Rainbow, 47 Mortimer St – Fitzrovia
AIko Miyanaga’s interest in origins, in whether one can pin down the decisive moment at which one thing becomes another, feeds into some gently impressive work for White Rainbow’s inaugural show. Items - notably keys set to unlock the knowledge in resin books - are cast in the volatile compound of naphthalene, better known from moth balls, which evaporates and resolidifies according to conditions. That leads to frost the glass of enclosed items. In the back room is a subtle in which you can - no, really - hear the sound of ceramic pots.



Carl Randall: Shōzō / 肖像 @ Berloni, 63 Margaret St – Fitzrovia
To 15 Nov:

Tokyo Portrait 2, 2011
Carl Randall’s practice all stems from observation of people, but leads to very varied results from individual portraits (sometimes knowingly kitsch) to orientally-styled ink drawings to storyboard triptychs putting faces into their life contexts to the combination of many individuals into serried and meticulous multi-portraits which suggest isolation in the midst of overcrowding. Those last are Randall’s signature and strongest works, along with a grid of 68 instant hand-sized sketches by which he notes characters seen on the underground.

Andrea Büttner @ Hollybush Gardens, 1–2 Warner Yard -  Clerkenwell 

To 15 Nov:

Installation view with moss
This unusual exhibition  brings together  three  subjects which are or have been neglected as comparatively low forms, but  should be given their due. First, the modest paintings of Gwen John, subsidiary to her brother Augustus’ bombast  during their lives,  now far more influential in keeping with how they’ve inspired Büttner's glass paintings here; second,  impromptu ramps which enable goods to be wheeled up steps; and third, moss. We see a collecting society out in the field,  a floor arrangement of 18 different types of moss,  and screenprints elucidating the particular and peculiar qualities which mark these cryptograms - for all their categorisation as a lower evolutionary form of plant life – as special.



Mel Bochner: GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! (and other recent paintings on velvet) @ Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley Street - Central

Mark Hagen: A Parliament of some things @ Almine Rech Gallery, 11 Savile Row, 1st Floor - Central

To 14 Nov (Bochner) / 18 Nov (Hagen)

Mel Bochner: Chuckle, 2013
These shows both reach apparently painterly ends by ingenious mechanical means. Simon Lee has a good range (in colour, size, emotional content, and mood) of Mel Bochner's long running series of Thesaurus paintings. All are on velvet, which Bochner says is the textile most able, unprimed, to hold up paint.  He puts large quantities into acetate templates of the phrases he has selected, then a hydraulic press is used to force it smeary-sculpturally onto the surface. Mark Hagen pushes black and white paint through rough burlap onto various textured surfaces such as packing tape and cut tiles, peels off the result, and reattaches it in reverse. The results are shown in customised frames and alongside modular sculptures, both of which take on rainbow colours from the anodisation of Diet Coke. The results, for both Bochner and Hagen, are much more alluring than the methods would lead you to expect.

Mark Hagen installation


Martine Poppe: Anatidaephobia @ Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, 533 Old York Road - Wandsworth

Martine Poppe at the private view
London-based Norwegian Martine Poppe disguises and half reveals  the object represented as the viewer moves around her paintings. Inspired during a Greek holiday by a list of imaginary phobias,  one being fear of ducks, Poppe has applied her method  to beach scenes in which she tracks between  the view as experienced, its photographic representation ( several complete with 'bloopers' such as her finger over the lens or her own shadow),  those photographs as the material for sculptures of boats,  and her painted version of the photographs. The results are satisfying both for the complexity of investigation of different levels of remove from reality, and for the what the press release calls  the 'signature soft  opalescent fracture' of the painted surfaces.
Analogical change #30 (Pool), 2014

Control Lapse @ Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House Street - Fitzrovia & Brand New Second Hand @ Vigo, 21 Dering St - Mayfair

To 10 Nov (Vigo) / 28 Nov (Lilley)

Kathleen Ryan's glazed ceramic and epoxy putty over steel stair rail

Control Lapse consists of cast objects, the title indicating that the nine artists chosen - largely American - allow processes to develop their own logic. The standard is high: this is the first London show for Scott Niall Macdonald's clinically surreal combinations of objects cast into white plaster purity. Ruairiadh O'Connell combines security railings with casts of net curtains caught up in them in a stand-off of privacies, linking neatly to Kathleen Ryan's ceramic cast over a railing, which takes on an angularly animated pose. An obvious missing artist is Nika Neelova... But no problem: her latest castings, silicon rubber versions  of the packaging from her own discarded sculptures, so refocusing onto her own practice her way of trapping the past in the present, are one of several highlights in the excellent 'Brand New Second Hand' at Vigo. I could also mention Matthew Barney's decidedly high end castings in zinc, gold and silver at Sadie Coles, which include examples of the 'water casting' process whereby molten metal is poured directly into water.

Nika Neelova   2011-2014 (the practice of conscious dying),   2014


John McAllister: stellar crush the sea @ Carl Freedman Gallery, 29 Charlotte Rd & Nogah Engler and Ori Gersht: On Reflection @ Mummery + Schnelle, 44A Charlotte Rd - Shoreditch

To 8 Nov -   / 29 Nov -

John McAllister: botanic ocean, 2014

There are four reasons to visit Charlotte Road now. On one side, John McAllister’s hotly-coloured paintings play with pattern, borders and pictures within pictures as he luxuriates in gardens like an American Bonnard (it's also worth checking the prints and collage downstairs). On the other, husband and wife Ori Gersht and Nogah Engler team up to turn buttterflies into Venetian masks in a wing-light adjunct to their separate practices - as well as showing her painterly fracturing of memory in landscape, his photographic fragmentation of apparent flowers in mirrors.

Nogah Engler & Ori Gersht: Virgin Parade 02, 2014

What Marcel Duchamp Taught Me @ The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street - Central 

To 5 Nov:

Annie Kevans: Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Selavy, 2014 

The oldest commercial Gallery space in London commemorates 100 years since Duchamp's first  ready-made with a riot of a show: over 50 artists on all five floors provide thoughts on the great enigma as well as work inspired by him, plus you can take a knockabout guided headset tour of the building's history. It's uneven, but all entertaining, and among the many highlights are Juliette Losq's take on Étant donnés, Alistair Mackie's forest and cuttlebones, Alex Seton's marble Glory Hole and Cedric Chritsie's branding of  the stairwells. Among the artists' comments  I was struck by David Mach ('Duchamp didn't just move the goalposts, he obliterated the pitch') and David Shrigley quoting Bruce McLean: 'all the best artists piss about. Duchamp was brilliant at pissing about.'

Michael Craig Martin: Art and Design, 1917, 2013

Paolo Scheggi @ Robilant + Voena, 38 Dover St

To 4 Nov
Rosso, 1962

Italian art from the sixties is very much the current market darling, and you can see beautifully installed evidence of that at the new Mazzoleni and Dominque Levy galleries, and a little known stream of Boetti at Lexington Dayan. Yet the must-see show in this zone is Robilant + Voena’s account of Paolo Scheggi, which does for him what the same gallery did for Augusto Bonalumi last year: big range, first British showing of a walk-in installation, scholarly catalogue of some heft. Scheggi died of heart disease at just 31, having made only 300 mature works, so more tyan 10% of it is here, making this the perfect chance to decide whether its combination of layering, puncturing and intense monochrome colouring amounts to a radical combination of Arp and Mondrian, or just a conversion of Fontana, Dadamaino and Klein’s insights to handsome design. 

Intercamera Plastica, 1967


Blue Curry & Karen Tang at Vitrine, Bermondsey Square - Bermondsey

To 25 Oct (Curry) / 15 March 2015 (Tang) :

Blue Curry: details from 'Souvenir'

Vitrine runs parallel programmes in the gallery (Jonathan Bladock's lively orifice-themed soft sculptures at present) and - round the clock - on nearby Bermondsey Square. The latter currently features an inspired pairing which works especially well by night. From a distance it looks as if some sort of blobby monster has just emerged from a sea littered with distant ships. Get close and the monster is revealed as Karen Tang’s colourful firebreglass sci-fi meets Franz West sculpture. The sea is in an aquamarine window frontage, and each of the dozen  ships is actually four identical combs, the quartets alternating between those of one colour  (monocombs, I suppose) and those of many. A Brazilian sensibility, I’d say, informs Bahaman Blue Curry’s ‘Souvenir’. So if you’re in Bermondsey to see Tracey’s show (can I stop you?) be sure to pop along.

Karen Tang: Synapsid, 2014


Sigalit Landau: Knafeh @ Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle St - Central

The titular Knafeh refers to a video in which the preparation and division of the sweetmeat, which is equally popular in Palestine and Israel, takes on a mutating spin-painterly quality in what Landau calls a ‘composition in motion’ over 15 minutes. That cues us in to the surrounding works: photographs of games in which demarcations are made in the sand, Tapies-like ‘sand works’ which set that into a more directly artistic context, marble sculptures of breastfeeding pillows which reinforce the body references and allude to Henry Moore, Louise Bourgeois and Sarah Lucas. Add some of Landau’s well-known stream of salt encrustations, and you have a resonant meditation on themes of nurture and conflict.

Azkelon, Freeze-Frame #2, 2011. Inkjet print


Korakrit Arunanondchai 2557 (Painting with history in a room filled with men with funny names 2) (with Korapat Arunanondchai) @ Carlos Ishikawa, Unit 4, 88 Mile End Road – Whitechapel - also in 'Beware Wet Paint; at the ICA to 16 Nov

The summary here might be interesting exhibition, great chairs! The show combines mannequins, cushions and video which both form Part 3 (2557 is the year 2014 in the Buddhist Calendar) of an ongoing account of New York based Bangkok born Korakrit Arunanondchai’s life and performances, and lead to the paintings shown. The whole merge Thai and Western media and art: a kitschy temple, burnt denim, body painting inspired by a TV game show, and Manchester United all play. The paintings are just one aspect, but striking enough in themselves that Gregor Muir has included one in the ICA’s punchy survey of current trends. All the same, visitors may remember the show mainly for the invitation to view it from much the most pleasurable massage chairs I have encountered.



Paradigm Store @ HS Projects, 5 Howick Place – Victoria and Kendell Geers: Crossing the Line @ Stephen Friedman Gallery, 25-28 Old Burlington Street - Central

To 5 Nov: by appointment via / 4 Oct

Kendell Geers: Monument to the F-Word, 2010

If you saw the seven floors of HS Projects' Interchange Junctions in the as-yet-unlet areas of this sparkling new office block, you might ask why only five floors? But of course, this seventeen artist examination of the interface between design and society is still huge. The highlights include and a face-off between Pilar Corrias (Elizabeth Neel, Tobias Rehberger, Ulla von Brandenburg) and Stephen Friedman (Beatrice Milhazes, Claire Barclay, David Shrigley, Kendell Geers). When the Belgian-based Africaans artist makes political work, it carries an authentic backstory, as he left his native South Africa when faced with spending six years in gaol for treasonable actions against apartheid.  Here and in Geers’ concurrent solo show, that gives extra heft to his use of ideologically-charged readymade materials (such as razor wire), language (such as the four letter word, the negative shapes from which are insinuated into his Monuments to the F-Word) and his striking new use of plaster soaked in rust-saturated water to make skulls in which his own handmarks are prominent, as if clawing at death.

Kendel Geers: Kaput Mortuum XXXII, 2012


Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America @ the Saatchi Gallery - Sloan Square

To 2 Nov:

Rafael Gómezbarros:  'Casa Tomada' (Seized House)

There are plenty of big shows which it hardly seems necessary to mention: such brilliance as  Matisse at the Tate Modern; Veronese, all theatre and colour at the National Gallery, any lack of depth well-aligned to modern tastes – or at any rate to mine; Phyllida Barlow in ramshackle glory at Tate Britain; and Giuseppe Penone at Gagosian. And the less convincing: Schnabel at The Dairy, for example, or Herman Bas's two sites for Victoria Miro. Then there are mixtures like Chris Marker at the Whitechapel, and Saatchi’s new ragbag of South America and Africa… if you’ve never been to the excellent Jack Bell Gallery, there’s a crash course here as three rooms are given over entirely to expanded versions of four of the African explorer’s lively shows. Still, Pangaea’s signature room is its first: Rafael Gómezbarros' 440 giant ants swarm the walls, each made of two cast human skulls with branches for legs, and held together by dirty bandaging. 

Mela Yerka: And the — the surface is fine and powdery @ Maria Stenfors, Unit 10, 21 Wren St - near Kings Cross

Mela Yerka with 'Rachel Felix', 2014

Polish painter Mela Yerka's show is titled from was Neil Armstrong's second sentence on the moon, neatly introducing a painterly exploration of the overlooked. Five portraits of talented women - but whose lack of fame contrasts with that of their male lovers - are rendered in fluid mixtures of fresco, graphic and gestural abstract styles. A separate room holds a blindingly lit and apparently empty canvas: only as the light - by which we normally expect paintings to be revealed - fades away in a three minute cycle does a landscape appear. It's of Mars, and looks very ordinary - suggesting that location is all: were it here on earth, it would be totally overlooked.

Installation view with Mars II, 2014 - acrylic and fluorescent paint on linen, dark mode

Space Age: Ophelia Finke, Konrad Wyrebek, Santiago Taccetti & Nathan Green:  @ Hus Gallery, 10 Hanover Street - Mayfair

Nathan Green: Seaandsky, 2014 - Spray insulation foam, paper mache, sawdust, latex, wood, hardware

This Danish run space ('Hus' is 'house') has built an intelligent presence over its first year in the West End. 'Space Age', titled from Lucio Fontana, repurposes artists in a future-oriented manner: Santiago Taccetti - also born in Argentina - references Fontana most directly; German Ophelia Finke's painted coats mix Holbein with astronauts and the fashion store; Czech Konrad Wyrebek shows us what photoshopped version of a classic Canova marble might look like; and Texan Nathan Green nods to Georgia O’Keefe as well as minimalism, framing painterly inventories of sculptural forms to push and pull the presence and absence of a curious old-new material: spray expanding foam with papier-mâché  and sawdust.

Konrad Wyrebek: Amour & Psyche, 2014 -  CNC routed and laser cut Polyurethane
..   ______________________

Richard Stone: Gleam @ Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, 533 Old Yorke Rd - Wandsworth

passing through a seascape, 2014 - oil on antique painting, limewood
Richard Stone recasts art history through processes of removal, movement and addition, and Gleam’s grisaille combinations take that forward with the added benefit of a recent residency at an Italian bronze foundry. Thus the sanding away of an old painting may produce a ghostly homage to Turner; fresh abstracted landscapes emerge from paint slid across aluminium; when a land becomes a sea might have been called when my paintings of tide-washed rocks mutate; and what Stone previously discovered by dipping found sculptures into liquid wax to yield new hybrids, he now creates as primary forms in bronze or marble, like some sort of reverse play on the Venus de Milo.

Richard Stone with 'When a Land Becomes a Sea', 2014


Guy Ben-Ner: Soundtrack @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street - near Bond St

To 11 October:

The most entertaining eleven minutes in a London gallery right now (make that 22 minutes: you’ll watch it twice) uses a brilliant formal device to deliver a distinctly current political charge. The Soundtrack in question is minutes 22-33 of Stephen Spielberg’s HG Wells adaptation ‘War of the Worlds’: a stream of gags enables Ben-Ner to match its sounds and dialogue to a home movie of him with his children: the blender stands in for a plane taking off, and there's plenty of smashing and burning as the artist-father struggles to cook. Then a laptop shows the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: domestic conflict turns out not just to imitate the film, but also to stand in for wider politics – not so much the effect on the family of Hamas rockets (almost all exploded midair by the ‘Iron Dome’ defences) - but for the disproportionate impact on Palestinians of Israeli attacks.


New Wrinkles (After Judd) @ MDC, 55 South Audley St – Mayfair 

Donald Judd: Untitled, 1972/73

Contrasting somewhat with Diego Perrone’s restraint-free ‘Void-Cinema-Congress-Death’ (!) downstairs, all the right artists are chosen for a selection of abstract works featuring  folding, crumpling and creasing, and Lygia Clark, John Chamberlain, Steven Parrino and Tauba Auerbach relate beautifully to the architectural setting of MDC’s upper rooms. It’s more surprising to see Alighiero Boetti’s colourful Zig Zag, like a condensation of deckchairs; Luciano Fabro screwing up a leather map of Italy; and Judd as the apparent starting point, given his reputation for smooth finishes. Untitled (1972/73), though, did involve folding sheets of galvanised iron. Its painterly quality - as the only metal with a surface pattern - plays strongly here. 

Installation view with Alighiero Boetti: Zig Zag


                                                 PREVIOUS CHOICES STILL  ON 

Sachin Kaeley (plus the group show 'Neither') @ Seventeen, Acton Mews, 270-276 Kingsland Road - Dalston

To 4 Oct:

Seventeen's big, square, new main space proves - in the first show after relocation – to be just the size for Sachin Kaeley’s cycle of ten paintings named literally for their materials. They start from a small (28.5 x 22 cm) orignating plaster cast, scraped, spray-painted and itself cast in a rubber material. That rubber cast is stretched to 110%, then cast in plaster and spray-painted in its turn. And so on, until we’ve reached the 116 x 89.5 cm of the tenth work.  Add the acretion of textures, a cycle of colour  and the cobbling together of the 7th out of two fractured casts of No6, and you have a facinating analogue evolution of forms which somehow have the look of the digital about them.

Spray paint and plaster on board, 2014 82 x 63 cm


Boris Nzebo: Prince de Ville @ Jack Bell Gallery, 13 Mason's Yard - Central

Cameroonian Streets, 2014
It's no surprise that Cameroonian artist Boris Nzebo sports impressive dreadlocks, for these visions of his home city of Douala interlace elaborate hairstyles with busy architecture to merge individual and collective streetlife to dizzying effect. Two room-high triptychs push Jack Bell's modest space to the max. The complexity is kept under control by a clean painting style with echoes of Picabia, Lichtenstein and Craig Martin, as well as of linocuts and the hand-painted adverts found in African beauty parlors.


Daniel Sturgis: Strict and Lax @ Art First, 21 Eastcastle St - Fitzrovia

To 4 Oct:

Learning to Fail, 2014
Daniel Sturgis, for all this is his first Art First outing, has been riffing on abstract langauges – notably the check and the blob - for two decades. Yet his approach remains fresh, and I like the way each painting is set slightly differently off kilter here, often using the device of irregular white bands around the coloured zones. The results are playful yet generate a certain anxiety.  Learning to Fail, for example, in which the black and white Riley references (which dominate elsewhere) are reduced to a token, sees the boundary give the illogical impression that there wasn’t room to fit all the stop sign onto the canvas, so some has slid round to the other side.

Happy in Your Skin, 2014


Continuum of Ceaseless Change @ A.P.T Gallery, Creekside – Deptford

Laura Smith: Mirror II, 2014

Deptford is particularly lively during the Deptford X festival (26 Sept – 5 Oct) when there are dozens of shows and many open studios to tour. The decidedly spacious A.P.T. Gallery hosts a dozen recent graduates’ peppy exploration of how work can   contain forces or expose its acts of production. To take one artist from each tendency, Sarah Pettitt’s sculptural jest paintings include one holding the mummified news in a pouch, one which looks like a body bag puckering up for a kiss, and several which take the deconstructed form of garlands, hung triumphally high by curators Laura Smith, Morgan Feely and Poppy Whatmore. Smith herself makes the  slide of paint across aluminium seductively visible, and I like how her two mirror paintings don’t quite reflect each other and would have reflected me better without their own painted image. Look out, too, for a beguiling daisy chain hand-out in which each artist discusses the work of one of their co-exhibitors…
Sarah Pettitt: Saturday, 2014
Keita Miyazaki (& Bongsu Park): Sound & Vision @ Rosenfeld Porcini, 37 Rathbone St – Fitzrovia

Collective Practice, 2014: aluminium bronze, felt, exhaust pipe 

Young Japanese artist  Keita Miyazaki has a resonant-enough central idea for his new sculptures, which look to create some sort of utopian mode, however ironic, out of the post-tsunamic landscape by combining parts of old car engines, festooning them with colourfully intricate paper forms, and building in tinkling melodies broadcast at railway stations to discourage suicide on the tracks.   That said, I can imagine it turning null, but Mizazaki’s forms take on an unpredictable almost animal life as their contrasts hint at post-recessionary flowering, industry in the community, and party streamers threatening to trump environmental issues. The no-nonsense aesthetic and political charge of the car engine have made it a fairly frequent component of conceptual art – see Thomas Bayrle, Matthew Barney and Roger Hiorns (though maybe not John Chamberlain: 'I didn’t want engine parts, wheels, upholstery, glass, oil, tires, muffler systems or transmissions.  Just the sheet metal').

Quarantine, 2014:   felt, paper, exhaust pipe

Images courtesy of the relevant galleries and artists

Eric van Hove: V12 @ Copperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street - Southwark

To 1 Aug, then 1-20 Sept:

V12 Laraki: Alternator (2013): Yellow copper, red copper, nickel silver, mahogany wood, cedar wood, cow bone, sand stone, cotton, ram's horn, cowskin, tin, chinese superglue and cow horn.

In an unusual twist on work not being what it seems, the apparent bling of intricate abstract sculptures in the second show of the third gallery to use this spacious former church hall is far from the point. Rather, they’re part of a project which revisits a failed dream of manufacturing a luxury sports car wholly in Morocco by commissioning to-scale versions of the 463 components in the Mercedes V12 engine which Abdeslam Laraki was eventually forced to use in the ‘Luraki Fulgara’. As such, it’s a social sculpture project orchestrated by the multi-national Van Hove to empower 57 of the estimated three million self-employed Moroccan craftsmen to make something other than tourist fodder. They worked reclaimed and traditional materials such as cow bone and recycled aluminium to the point of looking precious, so harnessing traditional skills in a sort of reverse engineering of factory line production.

V12 Laraki: Alternator (2013) - exploded view

An Impossible Bouquet: Four Masterpieces by Jan van Huysum @ Dulwich Picture Gallery

To 21 Sept:

Vase with Flowers, c. 1715

The obvious reasons to visit the country’s oldest public gallery are the permanent collection (all that Poussin!) and (also to 21 Sept) a winning account of Ben and Winifred Nicholson and their circle in the 1920s. Yet there’s also a focussed gathering of four floral still lives by the Dutch painter Jan van Huysum (1682-1749).  Dulwich’s own example, set against a dark background, is from 1715. Here it’s joined by three loans which follow his 1720 switch in to setting his Rococo bouquets against gardens with statuary. Their pre-refrigeration ‘impossibility’ is, of course, that Huysum took up to two years over each painting, and so shows blooms from quite different seasons - up to 40 different species plus maybe ten insects in each - all of which are informatively set out by means of interpretative keys. 

Flowers in a Vase with Crown Imperial and Apple Blossom at the Top 
and a Statue of Flora, 1731-32 


Candida Höfer: Villa Borghese at Ben Brown Fine Arts12 Brook's Mews - Mayfair

Villa Borghese Roma XVIII, 2012

Candida Höfer's Villa Borghese series is typical of her intimately monumental, formally similar records of culturally significant public interiors: she uses natural light only (Höfer adjusts her exposure time from minutes to hours as necessary), includes no people (though this set is statue-heavy by way of stand-in), centres the far wall from a slightly raised viewpoint, and generates an air of splendour and permanence. Indeed, despite the lack of digital intervention, you might say that Höfer  presents such spaces more as we might imagine them to be than as they would be likely to appear to us, were we there.

Adriano Costa: Touch me I am geometrically sensitive @ Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly St

To 27 Sept: www,

Lotus, 2014

Brazilians bring a particular aesthetic wit to the assisted readymade, witness the recent solos for Valeska Soares (at Max Wigram), Alexandre da Cunha (at Thomas Dane) and Jac Leirner (at White Cube). Adriano Costa – who shares a Sao Paulo studio with Leirnier - is no exception, and he brings that sensibility to bear on locally-sourced items over the extensive domain of Sadie Coles’ newest space. So whether you want a floral formation of socks (Lotus) architectural plans from umbrella sticks (Project for a New Museum), phallic sculptures spotted with attractively worrying globules (International Herpes Society) or a walk on steel food (Norwegian Cheese 2), you’ll be appropriately entertained here. One floor work looks like a Carl Andre – if it was, you could walk on it – only it's wrapped in protective plastic… so are you doubly able to tread on it? No, as the title indicates: Oven 25 minutes / You Cannot Walk on This One…

Norwegian Cheese 2, 2014 (detail)


Eleni Bagaki, Stéphane Blumer, Heena Kim and Soomeen Kim: I Meet Together, I Agree @ VITRINE, 183-5 Bermondsey St and on Bermondsey Square - Bermondsey

To 30 Aug (Gallery) / 13 Sept (Square):

Stéphane Blumer: installation on Bermondsey Square

Here the overarching theme is the nature of the local from foreign perspectives. That’s most direct in Stéphane Blumer’s soundpiece, in which he asked 50 Londoners to tell him a secret. Only five did, so the result is something of a communicative desert, consistent with the Swiss artist’s other works: a giant hashtag in soundproof packing foam, like an anti-advert for our times; and a panoramic hour-long montage of 25 film scenes featuring lone protagonists in desert landscapes, to meditative and convention-revealing effect. Add ‘Forgetten Materials’, Soomeen’s beautifully judged installation of slates found in nearby building sites and co-opted into her performative inventory; fellow Korean Heena’s near-abstract paintings derived from the regulation of laundry; and some streaky Bagaki bacon a la Greque.. the four artists, along with Indian-born curator Mary George, and have conjured a lively and coherent show from their summer residencies at Vitrine.
Soomeen Kim: ‘Forgetten Materials’, 2014 (detail)

Soon Hak Kwon: Truth is in the Detail @ Union Gallery, 94 Teesdale St – Cambridge Heath
To 13 Sept:
History of UNION Gallery IV, 2014. Digital Prints on 42 Aluminium Panels
Through his ongoing History Of project, London based Korean Soon Hak Kwon has built a practice out of photographing gallery walls in high resolution and installing the results… on gallery walls, so making the supporting act of display excessively visible. That’s treble-tweaked in this cunning exhibition. First, Union’s own walls are represented in 42 panels mimicking how the Kepler Telescope image sensor array shows the results of its seeking out other planets. Second, the accidental test shot presence of the ladder used to shoot an altarpiece builds the method into its being photographed echoes Kepler’s upward aspirations. Third, the other two walls, left blank but spotlit, gain their own fresh presence. Quite a bit of content for a painting show with no paint.

Ecce Homo, 2014, Giclee Print on Alumium


Schema – Sukima @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court Rd 

To 13 Sept:

Installation view with Yasuko Otsuka left, Kenneth Dingwall ahead,
Yoko Terauchi right

This six-strong Anglo-Japanese curation by David Connearn can be viewed at two levels, and not just Laure Genillard’s ground floor and basement: on the one hand, a post- Heideggerian account of Kant which uses the linguistic coincidence set out in an accompanying  newspaper that the English schema (plan) and the Japanese sukima (crevices) are pronounced the same as a starting point (phew!) or as a delicately beautiful collection of interventions which contrast eastern gradations (Yasuko Otsuka’s subtle duochrome lithographs on cotton, Yoko Terauchi’s shifting perspective of the gallery space using graphite on paint to shadow the floor, Hakudo Atsuo’s silver dust drawings)  with western clarity  (Gary Woodley’s line sliced through the stairs, Kenneth Dingwall’s more logical colour-sets, Tom Benson’s white painting with an accompanying text which makes for a neat face-off with the canvas at the centre of Yasmina Reza’s play ‘Art’).  Recommended either way.

Gary Woodley: Impingement no. 62. double helix, 2014

Giulio Paolini: ‘To Be or Not To Be’ & Francis Upritchard: ‘Do What You Will’ at the Whitechapel Gallery

To 14 Sept (Paolini) / 28 Sept (Upritchard)

Giulio Paolini: Delphi, 1965

There’s much to be said for the unusual coupling of Giulio Paolini’s coolly effervescent Arte Povera teasing at the roles of artist and spectator, with Francis Uprichard’s children’s commission. Paolini is most characteristically present in not quite making a straightforward appearance in 40 years of such putative self-portraits as Delphi, in which he seems to be looking through a canvas, distanced by stretcher bars and sunglasses, while we're round the back. Upritchard takes on the classroom staple of the dinosaur, making new variants out of balata, a rubber-like Amazonian material, to gloriously gloopy goofy effect.
One of Francis Upritchard's balata dinosaurs (on a plinth by Martino Gamper)

Trade @ Castor Projects, 16 Little Portland St  -  Fitzrovia

Alan Magee: Return to glory, 2014
Castor Projects have co-opted a west end gallery during its summer close for their first exhibition, bringing together a group of artists who tweak the process of fabrication. Andy Wicks turns picture fittings into sculptural forms which confuse work and support; Alan Magee sort of repairs the holes in hula-hoops by filling them with plaster; Rachel Champion adapts pea shingle to the gallery environment; amd Matt Blackler magnifies a damaged drillbit into a mountainous precipice which is still the smallest piece in the show. Meanwhile Matt Calderwood’s 15 minute film sees him make and unmake versions of the monumental by rearranging six bricks in six ways via many - equally valid? - interim stages.

Still from Matt Calderwood: Six Sculptures, 2011



A Poem for Raoul and Agnes @ Ancient & Modern, 201 Whitecross Street - near The Barbican

To 6 Sept (but closed 10-26 Aug):

Winifrid Nicholson: Palm, 1980

Talking of flowers, here are 14 floral works, chosen by Sherman Sam with a poem of accepting transience by another art critic – Barry Schwabsky – in mind: ….’We more than wounded know nothing / of flowers but the ripe pod / scatters its seed regardless’.  Cue a Winifred Nicholson worthy of Dulwich; Phoebe Unwin’s nuanced nude disguised in a bloomscape; Alex Katz alongside his under-seen peer Jane Freilicher;  Eithne Jordan’s play in the office - hardly separate given Ancient & Modern’s scale – with the separate lobby of Spruth Magers; and various other seasonal subtleties in one of the most enjoyable summer shows around (Simon Lee and Laura Bartlett’s project space are also commended).

Eithne Jordan Office I, 2014


Sam Francis @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 6 Cork St – Central

Untitled (#2 Pri-Rain), 1964 - gouache on paper

As John Yau says in the accompanying book to this extensive and beautiful survey of works on paper by the Californian artist Sam Francis (1923-94), he’s hard to place as an American abstractionist, being neither an Expressionist nor a Colour Field painter. Plenty lay behind his fluid and spontaneous-looking work – flight, botany, Zen, Jung, alchemy, dreams and his considerable physical sufferings from a plane crash, tuberculosis, kidney disease and cancer. This show ranges from early Tobeyesque explorations to his petal-like phase to his radical use of the ‘empty centre’, to the ‘blue balls’ to structured pours as those background factors are reflected in different formal approaches. All of which might be bracketed as using colour to trammel between the physical world of paint and ground and the immaterial world of thought and air.

Untitled (L.A.), 1976

PERFECTIoNISM @ Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham St – Latimer Road

To Aug 30:

Katerina Blannin: Three Piece  Suite, Vert, 2014
To 30 Aug: www.

Becca Pelly-Fry, the director of Winsor & Newton's lively space, has chosen ten artists whose work, shares an underlying 'perfectionism of process'. As teed up by an intelligently ludic wall text by Nick Hornby, they range from Lee Edwards’ intimate portraits on wood knolls to Inbal Strauss’ meticulously wrought pseudo-functional sculptures to Dale Adcock’s paradoxically intricate control of monumental surfaces to Iavor Lubomirov's canny sculpting of W&N's own graph paper. Katrina Blannin derives angular geometries from grids, then groups the forms into triptychs to complicate their visual dance of ghosting and mirroring. It's all precisely calibrated, yet the weave of the linen, along with the odd stray hair, is allowed to insinuate humanising touches of what one might call perfectly judged imperfections. 

Dale Adcock: Tomb, 2012


Lucy Sparrow: The Cornershop @ 19, Wellington Row – Shoreditch

Felt artist Lucy Sparrow has opened a corner shop in which all 3,000-odd items – from packets of crisps to ice cream to top shelf soft porn to should-be-soft loo paper to the till itself - results from a seven month binge of sewing. It’s all for sale, as impressively set out on the website. This wackiness has its precedents: Yayoi Kusama’s phallus infestations, Olek covering everything in crochet. Galleries are, of course, shops of a sort. And the best thing in White Cube’s Masons Yard summer show is the assistants’ shoes. All the same, the question arises: is this art or hobbyist obsession? Pure fun or a heartfelt paean to the disappearance of independent shops? 

Parker Cheeto's shoes as worn at White Cube

Will Cotton @ Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St - Mayfair

To 9 August:

The Deferred Promise of Complete Satisfaction, 2014 - oil on linen

New Yorker Will Cotton’s first British show neatly summarises his practice in the pinks and whites of a macaron-hatted portrait; a candy floss cloudscape;  an abstracted wax-textured close-up of cake decor; and a photorealistic nude riding an ice cream fish. Koons, Johns and Boucher come to mind, and there are painterly issues at stake in, for example, the variety of colours in the whites. The dominant impression, though, is of sweetness pushed to an extreme which is both repulsive and compulsive, setting up the questions of which wins – of whether humankind is trapped by incessant desire or blessed by the gratification available – and of whether Cotton subverts or exploits the lure of what he so elaborately bakes and paints. 

Persistence of Desire 3, 2014, oil and wax on linen


Jimmie Durham: Traces and Shiny Evidence @ the Parasol Unit, 14 Wharf Road

Smashing, 2004 (video still)
Some works lure you into a repetitive logic to compelling effect. I found myself repeatedly watching ‘just one more’ object get dispatched in Jimmie Durham’s 90 minute video of bureaucratic smashing . Durham, in a suit, sits at a desk. Assistants hand him a stream of items, each of which he pounds impassively with a prehistoric rock, whether with one blow or with mechanical persistence (he comes down 30 times on an alarm clock). Then he stamps and signs a certificate, and puts away the pen, ink pad and die we know he’ll need again in a minute. That's upstairs: below, the Berlin-based Cherokee's colourful installation of oil drums, pipes and spills proposes a compelling, if simple, echo of destruction.

Traces and Shiny Evidence, 2014 (detail)


Sigrid Holmwood: A Peasant Painter’s Garden @ ASC Gallery, Erlang House, 128 Blackfriars Rd - near St George’s Circus, Southwark

To 8 Aug:

Three Women and a Cow, 2013: Mushroom pigment made from blood red webcaps (cortinarius sanguineus), chalk, chrome yellow, indigo, and red lead bound in egg on hand woven linen

Anglo-Swede Sigrid Holmwood, whose family background is in farming, has studied how the peasant paintings of South West Sweden emerged from medieval sources. Seeing them as an alternative to bourgeois accounts of art history, she’s remade the types of brush, and the earth, mineral and plant-based pigments they used, and depicted the peasant painter's world as one ‘full of magic, where meaning and emotion are inscribed into all materials, and the animal, vegetable, human and super-natural are all interconnected'. Her way of painting parallels returning to traditional farming in contradistinction to modern machine-dominated methods. Holmwood’s lively style is at one with a filmed performance in which she rides a giant paintbrush-come hobby horse as if it were a broomstick…. Add spalting, secret hex signs, mycorrhizal relationships and the modern twist of using mushroom colours, and there's plenty going on.

Sigrid Holmwood with brush

Samara Scott: High Street @ the Zabludowicz Collecton, 176 Prince of Wales Rd – Chalk Farm

Samara Scott describes her practice as a ‘slow digestion of cosmetic, edible and chemical cultural bedris’. That turns out to be largely a means of trapping the fluorescently pastel-coloured experiences of a synthetically freed body. The key development in her language here are resinous horizontal paintings – come sculptural accumulations – come low tables - come flatbed scanners, raised on various props. Add a toothpaste drawing on the wall, rolls of sellotape inserted into textile, and a multi-hued painting featuring the gussets from tights, and plenty else, and you have one of five good reasons to visit Anita Z’s summer shows, the other highlights being a persuasive selection of Sam Falls’ paintings, sculpture and less often seen videos; and a rebooted version of Rachel Pimm’s excellent show from Enclave in April.

                 Rasbs Blubs Strawbs Glee, 2014 - styrofoam, tight toes, tight crotches


Flat Pack/ Wrapped/Stacked @ Punk & Sheep, 5th Floor, 30 Marsh Wall, Canary Wharf 

To 15 Aug:

Jonathan Trayte: Unifine and Rob Leech: Barry Box prominent and Sam Plagerson's improbably-sized contribution at the back.
This appointment only space on a Canary Wharf 5th floor, named for the gallerist couple’s pet names for each other, currently features 30 artists whom curator Tim Ellis invited to produce a sculpture not to exceed 50 x 50 x50 cm and to cost less than £100 to make, and to be posted to the Gallery in a box on which they are displayed with the artist ‘relinquishing control’ from then on. The prevailing mode of quiet wit includes several cunning wheezes to bend the rules – Kate Howard’s inflatable, Graham Reid’s sections to be reconstructed ceiling high, Rob Leech’s box which makes for a big two box sculpture - and a couple of the blatant cheats which I feel Ellis should have cut in half. It’s all well-suited to the surrounding financial services industry.  I particularly liked Jonathan Trayte’s iron and ceramic full box-worth of bread, a move on from his fetishitically finished fruit to a sort of reductio ad absurdum of mass food production  – though I did wonder about the £100 limit…
Installation view with Kate Howard at the front and Graham Reid showing height


Rachael Champion: Primary Producers @ Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch

Primary Producers, 2014
Hales’ space has two highly intrusive distinctive central columns. Far from worrying about sightlines, London-based New Yorker Rachael Champion uses them as the starting point for a modularly irregular, organically geometric set of shapes – half-building, half-landscape – which subsube the gallery in a combination of pebbledash (publicly derided by many, but secretly loved equally?), water, and the basic life form of algae (cleared from garden ponds, but an important source of oxygen, a super-food and a putative fuel)…  The result is a striking multi-ponded suburban takeover of Shoreditch’s cool which may speak, as the show’s blurb has it, of our ‘ever-mounting Anthropocene crises’.

Phantom Limbs @ Pilar Corrias, 54 Eastcastle Street - Fitzrovia

To 1 Aug:

Antoine Catala:   :)

I was fascinated, if not wholly unbaffled, by Phantom Limbs. It posits a parallel between the way the digital affects us at a distance with the phenomenon of a lost body part which is still perceived as being present. Two artists new to me making striking contributions. Rachel Rose’s 10 minute film Palisades in Palisades (2014), projected with a welcome lounging mat, swoops atmospherically between remote distance and intense close-ups as it explores the site where a battle from the American Revolutionary War was fought.  Antoine Catala’s :) (2014), is an emoticon turned into a mildly robotic kinetic sculpture which varies its expression winningly as it trundles towards you; while his Storage (2013) represents residual memory by varying shape according to whether a vacuum sucks it in or not: a sort of reverse inflatable. 

Antoine Catala:   :)

Phyllida Barlow: Fifty Years of Drawings @ Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row - Central

To 26 July: - has 123 images of the show!

7 Bathing Hut, circa 1970

Filling a run of large galleries with 500 or so drawings culled from the archive of a sculptor may not sound the most stimulating prospect, yet this feels far more than a supplement to Phyllida's Barlow's feisty occupation of Tate Britain.  She has a four stage process: (1) initial idea sketches (2) worked up 'drawings', which are typically paintings full of colour (3) sculptural forms (4) combination / reuse of those forms. Here we have stage 2: given the historically temporary nature of most of Barlow's stage 4 production, as close as we'll get to a full retrospective – an energising demonstration of sculptural  thinking with more ideas for painting than the average dauber could shake a brush at...  
Untitled 2001
The Combinational @ Studio 1.1, 57a Redchurch St – Shoreditch

To 27 July:

Sarah Anne Johnson: Kissing Gold, 2013
It would be illogical not to recommend my own show! It starts from the found and the collaged as dominant modern modes, and looks at how six artists combine materials in sculpture, video, painting, photography and mergers thereof, to reflect on how we live together. Moreover, the show is itself a combination of Canadians – Sarah Anne Johnson and Wil Murray – and Britons – Susan Collis, Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom, Suzanne Moxhay and Catherine Herbert. Sarah, who flew in from Winnipeg for the opening, has installed 34 photographs from her Wonderlust series. She travelled throughout Canada to find people willing (but not too willing!) to be photographed in their homes during intimate moments which she then altered to enhance a refreshing variety of moods from tender to comedic to absurd.

Sarah Anne Johnson: Burnt, 2013

Leo Fitzmaurice: /_\  @ The Sunday Painter, 1st Floor, 12-16 Blenheim Grove - Peckham 

To 27 July:

/_\, 2014 -  gummed paper tape on gallery walls
As another wordless title/_\  - hints, this is a show of framing rather than direct content. Merseyside artist Leo Fitzmaurice shows a near-empty gallery with what look like two small abstract paintings, but turn out to be (or do they?) arrangements of J-cloths and dusters - and how he got such a clean look, perhaps. His primary interventions are to soften the light to a cool white by applying a thin vinyl to the windows, and to run gummed brown tape along every edge and join in the architecture. The effect is a deconstructive demonstration of the parts from which the room is made… which proves, when one’s thoughts turn to the collapsed distinction between production and display, to be content enough.

J-cloth, 2013 - Permanent marker on tracing-paper


A.R. Hopwood: The False Memory Archive @ Carroll / Fletcher project space, 17A Riding House St - Fitzrovia

To 12 July (also at the Freud Museum to 3 Aug):

From 'False Memory Archive Erased UFOs':  collection of found UFO images with all evidence of the UFOs removed, presented in 242 used frames, 2012-13.
Alistair Hopwood occupies both Carroll / Fletcher’s new project space (in what was the Nettie Horn gallery) and the rather appropriate Freud Museum for an extensive exploration of false memory with many fascinating examples. Perhaps you think you’ve seen it already, but why not go again? Not least of the pleasures is a wall of  found photographs, fitted to found frames, from which the supposed evidence of UFOs has been removed. Often, Hopwood told me, the removal was of what had anyway been a mere photoshop addition. Imagine generating a false memory of a UFO sighting from forgetting that you yourself had doctored a photograph to include one...


Trujillo Paumier: Men y Men @ New Art Projects, 17 Riding House St - Fitzrovia

Trujillo/Paumier 'Untitled (Moro 24)', 2012

This unusual show by photographer-partners sees them working separately to contrast two distinctive but visibly Catholic communities in the Mexican town of Oxaca: American Brian Paumier’s Moros - portraits of cowboys and their steeds – are shown opposite Mexican Joaquin Trujillo’s trans-gender Muxes. The Moros and Muxes get on well, though, as indicated by a table of inter-mixed images presented in ex votos style, making this a celebration of difference. There’s also a film of the cowboys, lyrically shot from a helicopter as they parade their horses in an annual festival of thanksgiving, complete with the colour-bursts of traditional family ribbons.

Trujillo/Paumier 'Untitled (Muxes 11)', 2009


Architectural Landscape @ Camilla Grimaldi, 2nd floor, 25 Old Burlington Gardens – Central


The third  show in Camilla Grimaldi’s new space brings together four female photographers with structures on their minds: Heidi Specker, Clare Strand, Faye Heller and the young Dutch artist Fleur van Dodewaard, who shows prints from her fascinating set of 131 variations on Sol Lewitt’s 122 Variations of Open Cubes. Lewitt planned a systematic exploration of all the possible forms of open-sided cubes, with 1-9 of the 12 sides which would constitute a full cube missing so that the viewer can imagine the completion. Van Dodewaard uses a fleshy pink, so hinting at the body – indeed, she’s titled a comparable series of geometric constructions ‘Nudes’. She also provides an enlivening sense of the project’s contingencies: there are accidental duplications of structures, gaps where she failed to replicate one of Lewitt’s arrangements, some forms which she couldn’t match to his originals...


Sean Scully: Kind of Red @ Timothy Taylor Gallery, 15 Carlos Place – Mayfair

NB possible related trip =  Sean Scully Encounters: A New Master Among Old Masters – Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford - to 31 Aug

'Kind of Red', 2013

It’s easy to fall for the solid luminosity of Sean Scully’s paintings; nor is it hard to find they evolve rather slowly.  Here, though, in his first London solo since 2010, Scully eases into the full horizontal stripes (or ‘landline’) for a change, and where he employs his more characteristic city-inspired broken stripes, does so with some differences: the lushness is looser; and though he’s painted on aluminium and cited musical influences before, his exposure of more surrounding metal than previously adds to the sense that these could be end-on views of Scully’s own sculptures, and exploits the optical illusion whereby the aluminium appears to vary in colour depending on the colours from under which it’s glimpsed. All of which suits the improvisational jazz aesthetic of the vast quiptych ‘Kind of Red’. 


Bernard Frize: Colour Divides @ Simon Lee, 12 Berkeley Street – Mayfair
Riamo, 2014

I once congratulated Bernard Frize - as I saw it - for how, no matter that he uses such imaginatively disparate processes to make his paintings, they all look instantly like his work. That's a shame, he said jestingly, I do my best to avoid that.  Well, he's failed again here - but then the seven large works here are variants on a 1986 painting which tracked the labyrinthine course of the ceiling on which it was made, and they use an established strategy of his: the application of several colours to a single brush.  Various doublings and reversals are then applied between and within paintings. In Riamo, for example, the order of the colours on the brush is reversed below a horizontal fault line. ‘In my beginning is my end’, as Eliot put it, and it’s fascinating to see how the cycles play out as colour divides.
Lescilia, 2014


Hannah Maybank: Bobhowlers and Blooms @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street - Mayfair

To 5 July 2014:

'Angela', 2014 - synthetic dragon's blood and watercolour on stretched watercolour paper over polyester

Hannah Maybank’s dangerously beautiful mixed media paintings have flowers or hawkmoths as their starting point. Or do they? The floral works set out from a Christian name of significance to the artist, who then observes as the character of the painting falls in with or  diverges from that of its inspiration. Maybank is technically adventurous, exploring such materials as ‘synthetic gold’, ‘Japanese glass pigment’ and ‘orasol’. There's less of the latex peeling effect typical of her previous work, but there’s still a sense of vegetative growth not quite under control. That encourages environmental readings, but that dangerous beauty is the thing.

'Bobolla', 2014 - synthetic dragon's blood, graphite and watercolour on linen


Jane Harris and Jiri Kratochvil: the devil is in the details @ Horatio Jr., The Lord Nelson, 60 Canon Beck Rd – Rotherhithe

Jane Harris: 'Blue Bleu', 2013

Another show by real life partners sees the basement of a former pub filled with Jiri Kratochvil’s constructions, which make remarkably disparate found items surprisingly cohesive: thus, repurposed French agricultural equipment, Dorset limestone, and miniscule plastic models in sexual action make up Purely Physical.  Jane Harris, in bar and chapel-like ex-gents, applies her language of ellipses to diptychs with triple inversions: the colours in each of the pairs are the same, but the paint in the areas inside and outside the scalloped shapes is applied with opposing directionality and the ellipses making up the scallop are reversed. It sounds complex, but the modulations of hue achieved are simply seductive!   

Jiri Kratochvil: 'Purely Physical', 2014 (detail) 

Simona Brinkmann and Anja Carr: HOLD ON! LET GO! @ the Agency, 66 Evelyn St – Deptford
To 21 June:

Docile Brutes IV (No Go) - 2014 Steel, leather, metal fittings.

London-based Italian Simona Brinkmann uses leather and metal to form barriers suggesting shifting boundaries between private and public and a femininist take on power structures. All sleekly attractive and effectively tensed, but what makes ‘Hold On!’ interesting is its slippages - between original and copy, and between urban and rural: these fetish-finished versions are slightly out of wack with their originals; and their primary original isn’t city railings but cattle grids. Are we, then, the docile cows / brutes? Whether or not, Brinkmann is appropriately combined with Anja Carr’s performance-based horseplay (‘Let Go!’) and a gallery with a garden.  

Foreground: Underling  Background: Rig - 2014, both leather, oak, metal fittings.

Andrew Cross: Every seat @ Canal Projects, 60 De Beauvoir Crescent - Haggerston

From 'Every Seat'
Andrew Cross is best-known for photography and film projects which build the manner of travel into the way scenes are perceived, but this may be his canal debut - and then as a location, rather than a mode. The show is mainly a retrospective of his other main stream, the relationship between place, memory and performance. Cue another chance to see The Solo (see; the absent stage of Knebworth; the bare essentials of the Somali National Theatre; and 100 or so of 2,500 images which capture the view from every seat in the Royal Opera House - with the stage curtain down.  This takes the rigorous documentary approach of the Düsseldorf School to an impressively absurd extreme, and one which put me in mind of Alan Shearer and Robbie Savage's subsequent charity stunt of sitting on every seat in Wembley Stadium.   

David LaChapelle LAND SCAPE @ Robilant + Voena, 38 Dover St - Central

Castle Rock, 2013

In 2006, David Lachapelle forswore his hugely successful career as a commercial photographer in order to concentrate on fine art. The results have tended towards the overblown or trite – but I like 'Negative Currency' (mostly 2010) and this new series. Lachapelle commissioned the construction of models of the architecture of oil production and distribution, using recycled and repurposed materials such as egg cartons, hair curlers, cardboard packaging and patio lights. He then photographed the models, dramatically and somewhat romantically lit, in relevant real landscapes: refineries in the desert, petrol stations (alright, 'gas stations') in the jungles which are threatened now by the activity generated by the fuel of their predecessors... Result: spectacular and deceptive images with genuine purchase on the linkages between oil, lifestyle and the environment. 
Gas 76, 2013

Interchange Junctions @ 5 Howick Place, Victoria

To 21 June: - email to arrange appointment.  

Alice Anderson with 'Primary Material', 2014 - unattached sections of copper mesh.

Well over 100,000 square feet across seven  just built floors – shortly to become offices - play temporary host to 25 artists riffing off Yinka Shonibare, who has permanent work here. So: racial stereotypes countered, colonial legacies challenged, the history of trade examined…  There’s some great and unexpected stuff: Shonibare’s own totems with every colour of nail (and Andy Wicks' monumentally photographed nails); David Blandy’s Japanese garden installation; Fiona Curran and Faig Ahmed’s carpet alterations; Alice Anderson’s instantly convincing new direction, making copper mesh perform with trembling grace; and Rose Finn-Kelcey’s funfair sign out of a mistransalation in a Chinese restaurant menu - which led to ‘sad and lonely, set meal for one’.  You won’t be sad, you’ll be amazed.

Rose Finn-Kelcey: 'Sad And Lonely (Set Meal For One)', 2006

Steven Allan: Steady Rolling @ Berloni, 63 Margaret Street - Fitzrovia

To 5 July:

Nice Float, 2014

London-based Aberdonian Steven Allan made a strong impression in his degree show a couple of years back by merging the aesthetics of print and paint to create a distinctive dirty yellow world populated by banana-men. ‘Steady Rolling’ finds Allan in more gestural territory on what seems a confidently impressive scale. Paradoxically, though, what he dramatizes is the self-doubt of the artist trapped in his studio with no means of telling if he’s making progress or going bananas. Whether he presents himself as the returning
fruit construct, a baby acting the great artist, or a dung beetle straining to move the work forward, Allan’s task appears gloomily Sisyphean. And yet… the results are actually pretty funny.


Income's Outcome (part four): A drawing project by Danica Phelps + Works on paper by Katherine Murphy @ Patrick Heide,  11 Church Street - Marylebone

To 28 June: &

Danica with son Orion in front of drawings detailing their life together

For two decades American conceptual artist Danica Phelps has effected a rare combination of objectivity and intimacy: objectivity in the rigorous recording of her income (in green stripes) and expenditure (red): intimacy in the fluid drawings which diarise how the money is earned and spent. Her personal life over  has provided plenty of fodder: coming out as gay; a grand passion; an IVF conception in India; a tempestuous break-up; legal disputes – but here we see payments for rent, car insurance, milk, parking tickets, a children’s party…  Trivia and drama is accounted for alike, and the normally hidden economics of art built in too, as work and life combine.  Here’s she’s neatly paired with Katherine Murphy, who itemises the plain realities of minimum wage labour.

Income's Outcome 165

'Income’s Outcome 165': (10.75″x10.25″) $1,200  shows the flow of a dollars in 1,000 lines from Danica's window to her landlord's and the resulting depletion of her assets by $1,000 at one red stripe per dollar


Everything Falls Faster Than An Anvil @ Pace, 6-10 Lexington St – Soho

To June 18:

Catharine Ahearn: Incredible Hulk, 2014
The title of Tobias Czudej’s selection of art influenced by cartoons references Mark O'Donnell's ‘Laws of Cartoon Motion’ which have also been gleefully explored by Andy Holden (see eg  He’s absent here, but a suitably lively mix of established and upcoming artists is set against Carl Ostendarp’s pink ‘Fruit and Icebergs’ drip murals.  The highlights, spinning off a small Guston, take cartoonery to darker places: Catherine Ahearn reduces the Incredible Hulk to a powerless absurdity of hands; Tala Madani illuminates her bald man characters as tree decorations; Peter Wachler’s mournfully anthropomorphic metal piping sculpture fitfully invades the space with the sound of panpipes.


Stephan Baumkötter @ Bartha Contemporary, 25 Margaret St - Fitzrovia

To June 28:


The distinguishing feature of this show is the subtlety of its internal echoes – between casual-looking pastel drawings, and oil sticks layered into a near-monochrome waxiness which put me in mind of Brice Marden’s surfaces. Those echoes emerge from history and process: developmentally, the drawings came before the paintings; and now Baumkötter's ‘paintings’ are made by repeating the drawings' blend of chance and control until a complete surface emerges in a unpredictable hue which alters in the light – that variability alchemically belying the use of the same few colours in all the German artist's drawings and paintings.

Juan Uslé: Al Clarear @ Frith Street, 17-18 Golden Square, Soho

To 26 June:

Soñé que Revelabas (Aurora), 2014 - Vinyl, dispersion and dry pigment on canvas
Saro and New York based Juan Uslé is at his biggest  – nine feet high – in his family of dark paintings known collectively as Soñé que Revelabas ('I dreamt that you revealed'). Ongoing since 1997, they evoke both landscape and city. It’s not those suggestions, though, but the rhythmically discontinuous, mechanically organic surface patterns which draw the viewer in to discover irregularities in strokes of paint which Uslé has compared with heart beats. Also small paintings from kayak journeys by dusk on the Rio Cubus, in Uslé's home territory of Cantabria.


Into And Out Of Abstraction @ Lubomirov-Easton, Resolution Way - Deptford

To 21 June (late opening 30 May):
Gunther Herbst: The Ice Island 2

It’s hard not recommend my own ‘Into And Out of Abstraction’ (see separate post), as I love how the fascinating painting practices of Danny Rolph, Gunther Herbst and Colin Crumplin play off each other. London-based South African Herbst sneaks modernism into the history of imperialism in his new paintings of boats, combining such painterly styles within a work: her one might cite Stella and Ellsworth Kelly in the boats, the topographical work of William Hodge (who traveled with Captain Cook) in the glacier, abstract expressionism in the sky and Richter's blur in the reflection.  Deptford is worth a visit anyway for the run of galleries at The Enclave and the nearby Bearspace and A.P.T.

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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.