Monday, 4 January 2016


Clem Crosby: My, my shivers / Rachel Goodyear: Fragments / Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture - Lampe VIII @ Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, 6 Heddon St - Central

To 15 Jan:
Rachel Goodyear: Facing the Wall, 2015

Pippy Houldsworth has three shows by artists I have previously recommended…The single work presentation in ’The Box’ is a classic from 1970: Alina Szapocznikow’s mouth-breast-neck of a lamp merger lit from within to sensually mournful effect.  The Viewing Room shows Rachel Goodyear moving her witty graphic style in a more chance-driven and painterly direction.  And the main space yields 11 new paintings and oilstick works by Clem Crosby, their marks shivering across aluminium, formica and balsa board as he continues his cheerfully nervous exploration of the effects of different grounds. As I suspected, it’s all good. 

Clem Crosby:Untitled, 2015 - oil stick on balsa board - 34 x 50cm


Cipriano Martinez & Christine Van Der Hurd: Woven Cities @ Maddox Fine Arts, 52 Brook’s Mews - Mayfair

To19 Jan:

Composition in Black & Magenta

This unusual show focuses on nine large rugs hand woven in India by Christine Van Der Hurd's team after paintings by the Venezuelan Cipriano Martinez. His work occupies a richly ambiguous space between cityscape and abstraction, architecture and networks, order and its deconstruction. That proves a good basis for handsome silk dhurries in what proves a genuine collaboration: the sizes, proportions and colours of the paintings are changed to suit weaving, and two were made by Martinez knowing they would be woven. Five representative examples of Martinez's paintings allow comparisons to be made.

Cipriano Martinez and Christine Van Der Hurd

Robert Indiana: Don't Lose Hope @ Contini Gallery, 105 Bond Street - Central

To 2 Jan:

HOPE Wall (Red/White/Blue), 2010, Silkscreen on paper
I suspect  neither the Contini Gallery nor Robert Indiana are quite cool in art world terms, but this match-up turns out well as a chance to judge the pop-text pioneer’s significance as a deflator of consumer society staples.  Born Robert Clark in 1928 and rebranding to his home state in xxx, Indiana is best known for his many graphic and sculptural encouragements to ‘LOVE’, in which the ‘O’ in  a pinball-machine-come-advert seems to have been kicked askew by the ‘L’. This substantial retrospective starts with early figurative works from 1946; jumps to 60’s word works with little LOVE but plenty else, including a whole room filled with a rainbow alphabet; then concludes with a series initiated for Obama’s 2008 campaign,  putting HOPE through its paces with some brio. I offer TOIL as the next word, though Indiana says he’s considering PRAY.

Robert Indiana - ALPHABET (A to Z), 1994 - 2011, 26 Silkscreens and Rainbow Roll on Canvas

Jonny BriggsTo Eat with the Eyes  11 Brookwood Road - Southfields

To 31 Dec: (links to my essay on the show)

It’s worth a trip towards Wimbledon to catch the psychologically provocative and technically innovative photography of Jonny Briggs. He’s known for attempting a seemingly impossible act of self-escape: in his words: ‘I try to think outsidej the reality I was socialised into and create new ones with my parents’. Here he goes back further by altering historic black and white photographs of his grandparents and great grandparents. Briggs reconfigures their gazes by splicing them into an unsettlingly monocularity, or by pinning lips onto their eyes as if they might literally eat with them. His mother is here, too – though you have to look hard to spot her mouth smuggled into a woodland landscape.  

Peephole, 2015

Rosalind Nashashibi: ELECTRICAL GAZA @ Imperial War Museum - Kennington (where the Lee Miller show is also well worth seeing...)

Odd how three subtly political female film makers with Palestinian backgrounds are suddenly prominent: Emily Jacir at the Whitechapel and Jumana Manna at the Chisenhale have garnered most of the attention, but I like Rosalind Nashashibi’s ‘Electrical Gaza’ at the Imperial War Museum: 20 minutes depicting what the English born Irish-Palestinian artist calls the ‘wired stasis’ of the Strip. It opens and closing with crowding at the border gate. A contrast emerges between the man’s world of the enclosed city and the open run of the sea in which horses and children bathe as  Nashashibi finds enchantment as well as the ominous undercurrents. They're pointed up by the contrasts in the soundtrack’s music and by the occasional device of an animated version of what’s on camera taking over to hint at hidden realities. 


Ann Veronica Janssens: yellowbluepink @ the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd – Euston

Not only is this the first time Brussels-based Ann Veronica Janssens has shown one of her mist environments in London, it’s also the most effective one I’ve been in. Yellowbluepink reveals a chromatic range wider than its title as you move through, and is dense enough to induce the right level of trippy confusion. Disembodied by colour as entity, you may be in need of the tip ‘exit towards pink’. There’s more here, then, than the fairground fun of bumping into the other 19 people allowed in, though the Wellcome may be stretching it by making Janssens the keynote artist for its forthcoming programme States of Mind, which will ‘trace the edges of consciousness’.



Julian Simmons: Now  @ Lychee One, 38-50 Pritchards Road – Cambridge Heath

To 22 Dec:  with publication ‘Black Milk’

Julian Simmons is best known for the films and photographs he has produced with - and of the work of - his partner, Sarah Lucas. Here he asserts himself through eleven intensely detailed meditative graphite drawings of concentric circles (if that doesn’t sound terribly assertive, consider that the biggest has a diameter of ten feet). Their resounding lineations conjure enlightenment, itinerant shadows and – given that they resemble eyes and breasts by duck-rabbit turns – a little bawdy comedy.  The tone carries through into a handsome book, in which Simmons’ musings resonate with his milking of the mystical and he does a remarkable job of photographing pancake-flat drawings to make them look three dimensionally and celestially spatial.



John Armstrong: Paintings 1938–1958: An Enchanted Distance @ Piano Nobile,  
129 Portland Road - Holland Park 

Madonna, 1945

If you know John Armstrong (1893-1973), it’s probably as an associate of Paul Nash who made disquietingly quiet paintings of ruined buildings in World War II.  He was, though, both a glamorous society figure in the 1930's and a consistently innovative artist, particularly in tempera (from which he switched to oil for no known reason in 1950). The streams of work here include timeless character types, seen singly (The Goddess, 1938) or in mysterious groups (The Battle of Nothing, 1949); his own take on divisionism (Madonna, 1945, is a masterpiece which collides that late nineteenth century movement with Roman mosaics and a medieval subject and makes effective use of swirling cloaks and a menacing sea); surreally-tinged anthropomorphisms of leaves and feathers; and symbolically fecund arrangements of thorns and seeds. And he was born in my home town, Hastings…

The Iceberg, 1946

Christina Iglesias: Phreatic Zones / Jeff Wall @ Marian Goodman Gallery to 18 Dec / Chantal Akerman: Now @ Ambika P3 - Baker Street to 6 Dec

Christina Iglesias: Installation view with Phreatic Zone II, aluminium and water  ('phreatic': relating to or denoting underground water in the zone of saturation - beneath the water table).

Suddenly Marian Goodman is behind three of the best shows in London: what has become a memorial retrospective of Chantal Akerman’s gallery film installations at Ambika, Jeff Wall’s new photographs, and stunningly installed works with water by Christina Iglesias. The main gallery floor Is raised to the level of the pavement outside to cover the workings of the underground flows through root-heavy aluminium sculptures, Given the space's classical columns, Phreatic Zone creates the air of a Roman plaza to the varying sound of water over a timed sequence. The water is visible through paralellograms cut in the floor to trigger a perspectival and ditrectional effect which points, says Iglesias, to the related public space of Golden Square nearby. Metaphors abound: the hidden - including an allusion to London's Underground rivers - history, memory, origins.

Chantal Akerman: still from the multi-screen installation The East: Bordering on Fiction, 1995
Harm van den Dorpel: IOU @ Narrative Projects, 110 New Cavendish Street - Fitzrovia

To 19 Dec:

Painting from IOU under flash

There’s something of a modern tradition of painting with fire, from Yves Klein to such as  Bernard Aubertin, Aaron Young and Laura Santamaria. Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel applies a neat tweak by using a heat gun as his brush, having covered his canvas with the paper commonly found in cash tills - which create their receipts through temperature rather than ink. Van den Dorpel  sprays water and then applies guns to form ghostly abstractions, made more distinctive by the rucks and folds which the process causes. It all fits with discussions of art's value, merging proof of purchase with the content that threatens to  trump.  For the opening, van den Dorpel presented the paintings by candlelight, though I guess he should rather have warmed the room with heat guns.

Installation view by candlelight

Out of Chaos - Ben Uri: 100 Years in London @ Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing - The Strand 

To 13 Dec:

Arthur Segal: Halen, La Ciotat (Harbour Scene), 1929 - oil

The Ben Uri Gallery has had a dozen homes over a hundred years, and built a significant collection of art by Jewish emigres. It’s now hoping to find a new home under the banner of art, identity and migration, and to expand its ethnic reach to represent London as a home for multiple ethnic communities.  This show, featuring 70 of the collection’s inventory of 1300, illustrates what that might look like for the Jewish century. It’s not a parade of masterpieces, though there are a couple, but it is full of fascinating work, much of it by little-known figures, and it is exceptionally well presented via text and free audio commentaries. Bomberg, Gertler and Auerbach show well, and I rather liked the sort-of cubist pointillism of Romainian-born Arthur Segal's harbour scene.

David Bomberg: Racehorses, 1913 - Black chalk and wash on  on paper

Sarah Woodfine: We can hardly imagine how much the angels love the truly chaste 
@ Danielle Arnaud, 123 Kennington Road - Kennington

To 13 Dec:

Untitled (Branch) II  2015  pencil on roll of Saunders Waterford paper, steel and perspex  72 x 24 x 24 cm

Sarah Woodfine makes two unusual combinations: first, obsessively controlled drawing with sculptural forms; second, a poised and somewhat meditative aesthetic with such psychodramatic subjects as witchcraft, repression and the uncanny.  Here that all comes together through drawings which curl their way around outside or inside of the rolls of paper weighted to retain the shape. That formal suggestion of serpents - and the infinite motif of the Ouroboros eating its own tail -  is echoed in the pencil exactitudes of a rope which turns into a snake, and of thorny branches which are similarly transformed by implication. Atmospheric lighting completes a show which may well be less like any other than any other in London now.

Dark night, 2015 - pencil on paper, 15 x 52 cm (290 cm uncurled) 


Gerard Williams: Cultural Currency @ Handel Street Projects, 14 Florence Street - Islington

To 28 November 2015:

On the back of thirty years’ work emphasising our personal and social preconceptions, Gerard Williams shows thirty double-sided birch plywood tablets. Small windows are cut from each face to highlight  details of two or three banknotes enclosed within. This economical collision of art and value might ask whether, as Dave Hickey has put it, art and money are parallel cultural fictions - based on demonstrations of trust - which have no intrinsic value. If that’s the question, one answer might lie in the aesthetic interest which accrues from revealing evocative image fragments while turning the tableaux into compelling abstract arrangements. 


James Hopkins: The Mirror’s Mirror @ Union Gallery,

To 28 Nov:

Stoned Turn - Turned Stone, 2015

It’s hard – says its curator, modestly * – not to commend this perfectly pitched quincunx of sculptures by James Hopkins, each of which reconciles opposites or sets up a paradox Thus a flame burns in water, stone mounts a ladder or hovers in the air, black turns to white and the word ‘mirror’ remains the word ‘mirror’, even though it’s reflected in ‘the mirror’s mirror’.  That then, is the set of illusions – all with intimations of what lies beyond appearances, from the nature of reality to the shadow of death to the possibility of an afterlife. What’s more, ‘Out of the Living at Supplement Gallery, which is next door to Union, is also well worth seeing.. 

Scaled Ladder, 2014

Simon Callery: Flat Paintings @ FOLD, 158 New Cavendish St – Fitzrovia

Flat Painting Bodfari 15 Caput Mortum, 2015 - 237 x 178 x 26 cm

Simon Callery presents two types of paintings which – though categorisable as ‘flat’ – build up considerable interior space. The fold in the FOLD gallery comes from 125 meters of canvas rucked up to make the 75kg of Wallspine (Leaf), 2015. The other three large works are stratigraphic layerings built up at the archaeological sites which inspired them, their earthy tones considerably weathered by the practical necessity of being left out during the months of their formation on Welsh hill forts. The holes let into their inner voids are derived from the locations and shapes of artefacts found, but make, along with cutting and re-stitching, for a convincing exposure of process and excavation of painting.

Flat Painting Bodfari 15 Caput Mortum in progress on site


 Frank Stella @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 28 Duke Street St James's - Central

To 21 Nov:

Tell Shimshara, 2002  Mixed media on cast aluminum - 137 x 152 x 58 cm
Sticking with the archaeological inspiration, this zappy Frank Stella retrospective includes to wall mounted scultures named after key sites in ancient Anatolia: Stella threw found elements into a sandpit, poured in aluminium and stirred to taste. They're from an early 80s series mounted on rings which, unusually, allow them to be rotated so that they can be displayed stably at any angle. That aside, Bernard Jacobson makes the most of his capacious new space to show the  4.26m square Michael Kohlhass Panel #7 and the linked sequence of seven canvasses Die Marquise von O... which is - at over 13m wide - easily the biggest artwork within 200 metres (ie until you get to Ai Wei Wei at the Royal Academy).

Die Marquise von O..., 1999, mixed media on seven canvas panels, overall 305 x 1,317 cms 


Dan Hays: Interstate @ Christine Park Gallery, 35 Riding House Street - Fitzrovia

To 28 Nov:
Dan Hays: Wanderlust, 2015 - oil on canvas, 152 x 270 cm

For a more recent take on divisionism, see the latest from Dan Hays, who continues to take inspiration from online images of Colorado – which he’s never visited but has built into a standing fantasy after discovering the website  of a namesake there in 1989. Wanderlust , one of the biggest paintings in that series, encodes the message ‘sweet home’ in its dazzlingly intricate version of pixilation, and reflects - presumably in the monitor - his own  window. What home is longed for here: nature, dwelling or screen? The other big work here turns a malfunctioning WebCam image into the matrix of a woven canvas.  When Karen David asked Hays what he’d choose if granted a superpower ( he joked that didn’t need another one - though maybe he's content with his phenomenal patience. 

Dan Hays: Wanderlust, 2015 (detail)


Prem SahibEnd Up @ Southard Reid, 7 Royalty Mews - Soho

To 14 Nov:


The three potential meeting spaces of Prem Sahib's extensive and well-received ICA show each create clinical and yet intense atmospheres, and there is in effect a fourth at his gallery a kilometre north: Southard Reid is boarded up as if to suggest an unofficial occupation. A fading neon, the eponymous END UP,  flickers between a closing down or having reached a goal. Inside, you're in changing rooms, complete with benches, gay scene magazines and new objects through which Sahib can apply his brand of sensual minimalism: several silicone rubber rolls of paper towels.


Eric Bainbridge / Joel Kyack @ Workplace London, Mezzanine Floor, 61-65 Conduit Street - Central

To 21 Nov (open daily 13 - 17 Oct):

Joel Kyack: The Very First Day, 2015 Bucket, pump, plastic finger, dye, water, tile and wood
129 x 41 x 41 cm
Chiming with that Stella,  LA artist Joel Kyack has a penchant for setting localised world records, mocking the Guinness Book (which, come to that, he claims to have thrown further than anyone, albeit without official recognition).  Gateshead's Workplace as a supra-local outpost in London, currently showing Kyack's sculptures - such as an endlessly spiralling balloon and a putple-watered start of the world Fountain which conjoins creation and urination - together with 10 new examples of Eric Bainbridge's rather staisfying paintings using his signature material of synthetic fur fabric. He told me that this stream of production - less known than his fur sculptures - rather annoys painters, which makes them all the more fun to make.

Eric Bainbridge: Untitled, 2015  Fur fabric and acrylic - 140 x 140 cm

Last Year's Snow: The Hungarian Neo-Avant-Garde In The 1970s & 80s @ Austin Desmond Fine Art,

Katalin Ladik: Poemim, 1978
Austin / Desmond have put plenty of research and search into presenting a first London overview of the unofficial  Hungarian production of the Communist era. The emphasis is on performance and its photographic documentation, much of it with a subversive political edge. Dóra Maurer  is probably best-known of the ten artists here, though the ‘radios’ of Tamás Szentjóby (which are just bricks, as carried in protest at the banning of radios as part of the 1968 suppression) have been shown at Documenta. Poet and performer Katalin Ladik’s charisma does transmit through the photo sequences in which she re-presents her self.  I also liked Endre Tót’s self-negating expressions of pleasure at his freedoms.

Endre Tót: I am glad if I can type Zer000… 1975 - Typewriting, ink  
and rubberstamp on paper

Eric Bulatov: BOT @ de Pury de Pury, 3 Grafton St – Central

Entrance – No Entrance 1973 — 1995
This 34 work retrospective of the Paris-based Russian Eric Bulatov shows his considerable range to advantage, from the iconic billboard-sized text paintings to conceptual abstraction to atmospheric landscapes to re-envisioning older works, as when he resolves what he judges to be weaknesses in a classic Alexander Ivanov painting by adding spectators in the foreground. It also benefits from excellent explanations from Bulatov himself. It helps to know, for example, that ‘Da’ – ‘Net’ (Yes – No) is built into the spatial perspectives, contradictions and ironies of ‘Entrance – No Entrance’ in which the words VKHODA NET ‘plastically demonstrate the reality of the space while declaring it non-existent’.

Le Tableau et les Spectateurs, 2011 — 2013


Judy Chicago: Star Cunts & Other Attractions Riflemaker, 79 Beak St - Soho

To 31 Oct:

Star Cunts #2, 1969

This economical yet broad survey of the key years in Judy Chicago’s development sees her emerge as a ballsy counter to the ab ex norm in early sixties LA (with studies for the car hood paintings, now on show at Tate Modern) then slip into less combative abstraction before finding her mojo by applying the colour lessons learned to a series named for how male painters bonded through matey insults. ‘Well, I’m a cunt’, I take Chicago to be saying in these subtly orificial images, ‘but I’m going to be a star’. She then took on another taboo – narrative – and taught herself china painting (shown in a butterfly plate sequence from 1973-74), and fused attitude and technique to famous effect in the 39 place settings of The Dinner Party, 1974-79, represented here by test plates and some of the 'goddess' sculptural elements.

Goddess #6, 1977

Neil Gall: Arrange your face @ DomoBaal, 3 John St – Holborn

Nightwatch, 2013 - oil on gesso panel, 52 x 36 cm

It’s ten years since Aberdonian Neil Gall showed solo in London: he’s still painting from photographs of the models which he constructs of studio bric-a-brac, but his sources have become less sculptural. The faces in these models, which cohere into caricatural types through a nice mix of strategy and accident, invade the viewer’s space with a flattened-up-close intensity. That’s enhanced by Gall's uneven, paint-like use of varnish, which glistens sensually.  The title ‘Arrange your face’ picks up on the  Arcimboldoesque aspect, but is also a phrase common in Wolf Hall: that fits particularly well with the contrasting pair of ‘Nightwatch’ and ‘Cut-Out’, as the latter is an empty version of the former’s headspace, bringing to mind the iconoclastic smashing of the Reformation. 

Cut-out  - oil on gesso panel67 x 51cm


Mustafa Hulusi: Flyposting @ London Metropolitan University, 59 Whitechapel High St

Olive trees on the street

This unusual show brings the history of London-based Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Hulusi’s flyposting practice to the gallery context, starting with late 90’s declamations of his palpably alien and then unknown name, merging it with disco effects to confuse more categories than just the fine art / graffiti / design divides. 2005 saw the debut of what became his graphic signature, the ‘expander’ which suggests heightened states of consciousness, be they aesthetic – as when paired with flowers – or otherwise. They were popular enough to stay on London’s sites well beyond their planned couple of weeks. More recently the sensual excesses of giant pomegranates and the Levantine image-as-ground of gnarled olive trees have taken centre stage. As well as posters on the wall, we get a documentary slide show and a broadsheet of further images.

Pomegranate in the gallery

Moyra Davey: You’re a nice guy to let me hold you like this @ Greengrassi,1a Kempsford Road- Kennington

To 24 Oct:

Dr. Y., Dr. Y., 2014 - 15 digital C-prints, tape, labels, postage, ink Each: 12 x 18 inches overall: 60 x 54 inches Photo: Marcus Leith. Courtesy of greengrassi, London

New York based Canadian Moyra Davey seamlessly melds tone and structure in her films and collages of photographs which have been through the postal system: the tone relaxed, casual, intimate, yet literary; the structure apparently rambling and accidental yet arriving somewhere nonetheless. Here the film sees her take off from  Derek Jarman's last film Blue to pitch blindess, Borges, process, Anne Sexton, curtains, Julia Kristeva and  PJ Harvey into an evocatively meditative half hour. The postings use the functional chance abstraction of parcel tape, folding and stamps in making public traffic from the personal: coffee stops, the weather, old receipts, the thought that her dog defecating echoes herself giving birth in both pose and the urge to expel...

Still from Notes on Blue, 2015

Ugo Rondinone: clouds + mountains + waterfalls @ Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly St - Central

To 24 Oct:

orange yellow green blue pink red mountain, 2015

Ugo Rondinone isn't one to do things by halves, and this elemental air-water-stone / natural-romantic-existential show is no exception. Against the backdrop of a dozen ethereal cloud paintings which shape meditative skies into upper borders of cumulus, the New York-based Swiss artist places 33 ‘mountains’ made of 3-6 rocks stacked vertically on concrete plinths, essentially abstract and yet sometimes suggesting figures as well as landscape. They're painted in supernaturally intense Day-Glo colours, so that the whole ensemble has London galleries' biggest current wow factor. The waterfalls stand apart from this: spindly aluminium cascades which look more like Indian rope tricks.


Ralph Fleck @ Purdy Hicks, 65 Hopton Street - Bankside

To 28 Sept: www.
Londonbild 7. VII, 2015 - oil on canvas, 200 x 200cm

Unusually, Purdy Hicks give both floors over fully to one artist – but then it is their best painter, Freiburg-based Ralph Fleck, known for his ability to combine a seething abstract intensity close-to with figurative coherence when you step back. There’s something of a logical upper and lower split to his range of subjects here. Upstairs are aerial cityscapes and mountains disappearing into particularly energetic mist; downstairs it’s dying flowers, books and the city reduced to post-quake rubble.  Add a colour-chart-like canvas, which  could be buildings or books viewed from above, and these 25 paintings cover an impressive range.

Bild 3/VII Beben, 2015 - Oil on canvas, 200 x 200cm

Dominic Beattie: Studio @ FOLD, 158 New Cavendish St - Fitzrovia

Dominic Beattie in 'Studio Chair' with Untitled, 2015
Dominic Beattie's 2014 show in Fold's old space - like all his practice in the last three years - saw him knock up small scale, cheerfully abstract constructions with a DIY aesthetic (see the following choice). Given the run of a more expansive new space, he’s gone bigger and more complex, with four collages up to 10 feet wide which layer spray paint, ink, aluminium tape, paper and varnish, the dominant element being the jazzy use of tape to make fractured geometries with echoes of TV static, sound waves and op art. Beattie thoughtfully provides four chairs in what might have been sculpture’s space as monochrome resting points which encourage longer engagement with the paintings: they're built to his own design, hand coloured and finished with a rather cool 'Dead Flat' varnish.
Untitled, 2015

Invited @ Fair & Co, 9 Hillgate Street - Notting Hill Gate
To 19 Sept:

   Alexi Williams: Untitled (Garden of Transgression), 2015 - plaster / aluminium on dolly,

‘Invited’ is a pop-up in a just-renovated and surprisingly extensive Notting Hill house in which many separate spaces are turned over to a mixture of contemporary art and medieval carvings as the property is marketed. I was almost bound to like it, as Flora Fairbairn and Philly Adams’ curation could have been derived from Paul’s Art World: I’ve written on recent shows by Jodie Carey, Alastair Mackie, Liane Lang, Alejandro Ospina, Jodie Carey, Rafael Gómezbarros, Boo Saville, Dominic Beattie, Phoebe Unwin and Tim Ellis… and they all have good work here! And yet I was most struck by the new to me Alexi Williams, who has three rather baroque plaster sculptures on dollies: they look a little as if Rebecca Warren has turned to working with a cake decorating gun, but were made by filling and casting the somewhat floral complexities of cows’ stomachs.

Dominic Beattie: Untitled, 2014 - ink, spray paint, enamel and varnish on board, 47 x 30 cm


Oleg Tolstoy: Who’s Driving You @ Carousel, 71 Blandford Street – Marylebone

To 25 Sept by appointment: / / 07766756589

Oleg Tolstoy is a commercial portrait photographer who also takes on art projects. A room above the Carousel restaraunt holds his latest: after careful consideration of Philip Lorca-diCorcia 2006 legal victory, which held that he could take street photographs without his subjects’ consent, Tolstoy set out to catch not taxis but night images of their drivers at a central London junction. Ten such images selected from thousands are shown here alongside semi-abstract shots of traffic and a six minute film shot from cars, which turns passing headlights into kinetic patterning. The battle of black cab vs. Uber driver underlies this atmospheric documentation of what still proves to be an overwhelmingly male world - and none of them look too happy.


Gelitin: Prospopoei @ Massimo de Carlo, South Audley St - Mayfair

To Oct 10:

Installation view with Golems nearest to camera
In 'Prospopoei' * the cheerfully anarchic and obscene Austrian collective Gelitin escape the bourgeois value of consistency through a hugely varied display on the ground floor, from a stained vases and toilet to wildly busy drawings and flowers in their signature material of plasticine. A table of blobby white glazed ceramic 'Golems' is self-effacing in this cacophony, but the perspective shifts when you go downstairs to see that - upping the ante on the male genius painting with his penis - the film shows the four men of Gelitin literally fucking the clay into the forms we’ve just seen. 

Still from the making-of documentary  'I Love My Job'
* Prospopoeia'a figure of speech in which an imagined or absent person or thing is represented as speaking'. The press release uses two more attractive words you might need to check; rocambolesque: 'fantastic, incredible, fabulous' and fardel: 'small bundle'


Michael Bauer: butter Bebop (Transatlantic Crème Dreams) @ Alison Jacques Gallery, 16-18 Berners St - Fitzrovia

To 8 Oct:

Butter Bebop, 2015 - Oil on canvas, 229 x 247 cm

Michael Bauer’s colourful new paintings give the impression he’s enjoying piling up their illogically coherent  mash-ups of content and styles. On primed canvases stained close to the colour of unprimed canvas, we find about ten each of three categories. First, clearly figurative elements, often set to ping off each other oddly: Butter Bebop, for example, has hand, plinth, broccoli, baseball bats, clothes hanger and book. Second, abstract marks, variously smeared and drawn. Third, ‘in-betweeners’ - either crisp abstract zones which looks as if they could be objects – here a stripy tray, perhaps; or vague marks which may or may not signify jelly, hedges, flowers, breasts and an iguana.  If these are portraits of minds, then my own would suggest they have it about right.

Creme Dream 4, 2015 Oil on canvas, 184 x 153cm


Sinta Tantra: Fantastic / Chromatic @ Kristin Hjellegjerde, 533 Old York Road, Wandsworth

Simple Races No. 2, (Le Corbusier), 2015
 I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the colourful Kristin Hjellegjerde, who is herself married to an architect, should show the Anglo-Balinese Sinta Tantra. Her work brings a constructive aspect  to the exploration of colour, is here inspired by a book on colour* which was recommended to Tantra by her own architect partner. But the key to this show is how the space is split into three colours zones which successively bring us in from, separate us off from, and then lead us back to the world. First pink vinyl plays with light through the window; second abstraction’s all around against intensely coloured walls; then the found colour of bird prints by Audubon enters to triple the Tantran (or should that be ‘Tantric’?) chroma. . 

Night view through the window

* William Gass: On Being Blue: A Philosophical Enquiry, which is actually more like prose poetry than philosophy: blue ‘is the colour consciousness becomes when caressed; it is the dark inside of sentences, sentences which follow their own turnings inward out of sight like the whorls of a shell’ etc… 


Yada Naidenov: Eye Scaffold @ Josh Lilley Gallery, 44-46 Riding House St – Fitzrovia

To 8 Oct:

Young Mozambique-born London-based sculptor Yana Naidenov has a nice way of melding permanence and impermanence with a little duplicity thrown in. Her  tottering concrete geometries come across as playful variants on the Communist era monuments now deteriorating in the former Yugoslavia - but are actually made from pulped paper, so giving a different spin on the vulnerabilities involved. Taking the role of insubstantial paintings are framing devices with more transparency than pigment: there's reason as well as aesthetic in play, as their marker pen lines are coaxed through the paper by Vaseline, and the outer breath-light covers protect the undrying surface.


Jess Fuller: Fairy Smoke @ Herald St., 2 Herald St - Bethnal Green

To 4 Oct:

Fairy Smoke, 2015 - acrylic and gesso on canvas, 385 x 254 cm
There seems to be an endless supply of young American painters ready to be introduced to London audiences, and Brooklyn-based Jess Fuller is one of the most convincing. Matisse, Arp and Miro are channelled into an exuberant language all her own as she combines multiple pieces of canvas which have been variously shaped, folded, crumpled, dyed, put through the washing machine etc. She moves them round on the floor until these hints of 'women's work' parody male painterly traditions in a lively dance of surface detail and somewhat phallic biomorphism with titles which pick up wittily on possible associations. 

Lettuce offering, 2015 - acrylic and gesso on canvas, 238 x 205 cm

Lis Fields: Red Kimono @  Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square - Holborn
To 30 Sept:

Prasanth, 2015

Head to the  Conway Hall Ethical Society – built in 1929 and housing a large humanist library - for an appropriate combination of passion and restraint. Lis Fields’ photographs of an extended network of artists and activists, all dressed in the same vintage kimono and made up geisha-style (a fairly committed process which typically takes three hours).  They pose in solidarity with those affected by the radioactive fallout from 2011’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. In a neat play on serialism, people of different races, ages etc initially look similar, but individual characteristics soon burst through. Fields has backed up her concerns through extensive research and has published a booklet of testimonies, all pointing to a failure to acknowledge the full - and potentially worldwide - effects, or to hold anyone meaningfully to account. All without Fields having been to Japan, making this all the more impressive as a lesson in empathy.

Lis Fields at Conway Hall                                                    

Albert Irvin: Painting the Human Spirit @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies St – Bond Street

To 12 Sept:

Bert Irvin died recently at 92, having worked exuberantly to the end on his passionately colourful abstractions. A selection of them make for a suitably upbeat summer show. Most are from his 80’s, when he settled into an attractive, if slightly predictable, language of smallish canvases full of noughts and crosses, quatrefoils and dashes. But he left a lot in his studio, some of it apparently too big to display at Gimpel Fils, large as their space is – and so the show is spiced by such as the more monumental close tones of 1960’s Moving Through; a stain-based Untitled (above) from a 1970’s series, shown alongside Irvin’s favourite sunflowers; the larger gestures of Pegasus, 1982; and the sonorously dark Endymion, 1991 . Though Irvin was very much a London artist, a retrospective at the light-filled Tate St Ives would make sense, I reckon.

    Endymion, 1991 - acrylic on canvas,  84 x 122 cm


Imi Knoebel @ White Cube, Bermondsey and Lars Wolter: Framed @ Rocket, 4-6 Sheep Lane - Cambridge Heath

To 13 Sept (White Cube) / 3 Oct (Rocket)

Imi Knoebel: Installation view with 'Molani', 2001

Oddly, White Cube has the first solo London by the seminal German abstractionist Imi Knoebel, who has had any number of such shows elsewhere,  and it's well worth seeing.  There's also a table by Knoebel at the beautifully appointed new premises of Jonathan Stephens' Rocket gallery, together with new work by another German minimalist with a wider crossover with furniture. Lars Wolter makes all his own superbly crafted painting-objects. Here he has four separate streams of work,  much of it - like Knoebel's - exploring colour, but I also like the more chromatically restrained series which can be read as a sleep-scape punctuated by dream events.

 Lars Wolter: 'Dream A', 2014, veneer & paint on wood, 196 x 139 cm


Justin Hibbs: Alias_Re_Covered @  Carroll / Fletcher, 56 - 57 Eastcastle St - Fitzrovia

To 12 Sep:

Installation view
Justin Hibbs’ first solo show at Carroll / Fletcher is something of a multi-dimensional juggling act. It’s simplest to start with his version of Joseph Albers’ album cover  for Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition'. That connects with music and design, and is made with a pin-striping machine on linen, causing glitches which link to the humanising acceptance of errors in even the most computerised of future imaginings. The music cues the show’s ambient soundpiece, and the glitches anticipate the crashed computer screen as a generator of sleek abstractions which set off a dance of two and three dimensions as paintings fold out into sculptures. It’s too complex to describe quickly, but preliminary ideas form a sort of brain in the central room, and some domestically coloured walls offset the industrial aspect of what proves a seamlessly holistic show.  Given that Hibbs embraces the fault, I’m tempted to complain,  does his show itself have enough?

Alias Re_Versioned, 2015

 Gary Woodley: Impingement no. 63 @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place - Fitzrovia

To 12 Sept :

Impingement no. 63 (installation detail)

Gary Woodley has developed a site specific practice which consists of the ‘impingement’ of an imagined three dimensional form in and around a space such as a gallery’s. They might almost be better left imagined than realised, but then there would be nothing to see: rather, Woodley delineates the imagined object’s points of intersection with wall, floor or ceiling. This results in lines on their surfaces - originally inspired by how a bubble breakks on a wall - which aren’t so much the work in the form of a drawing as an indication of the imagined object’s shape and volume.  Here we have not just the second time Woodley has impinged on Laure Genillard’s space, and with increased computer-aided precision, but also 2D and 3D editions showing how it works, and  a free publication with an informative and well-illustrated overview of Woodley's practice since 1982.
Impingement no. 63 - Ink on perspex model


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

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.