Sunday, 27 May 2018


Maeve Brennan: Listening in the Dark @ Jerwood Space *, 171 Union Street - Southwark

To 3 June 

London seems to be in something of a cave moment just now. If you want paintings of them, see Mimei Thompson’s dark places in a show about light at ArthouSE1; for a psychedelic encounter with the astro-cthonics of alien abduction, spectacularly installed, head for Megan Broadmeadow at CGP. But I like bats in my caves, and Maeve Brennan’s 43 minute film Listening in the Dark makes the most of them, bringing the unintended fatal consequences of wind turbines on bats (their lungs explode in the pressure drop  behind the blades) together with ultrasound detection, scientific research methods, geological history and the operation of whale calls to explore bats as a symbol of how convenient it can seem to be to ignore what we are doing to the environment. It’s effectively paired in the Jerwood's 'Unintended Consequences' with Imran Perretta’s film about refugees, something else with which many would prefer to ignore. 

* Jerwood's web coverage is unusually good


Mequitta Ahuja: Notations @ Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street

To 2 June

Material Support, 2017 - 213 x 203cm

American painter Mequitta Ahuja - mentored by Kerry Marshall - takes a refreshingly unconventional view of the artist in the studio: both by staging herself reading the paper and doing a crossword as well as amongst various intersecting works; and by - in her words - 'positioning a woman-of-colour as primary picture-maker, in whose hands the figurative tradition is refashioned'. The personal and political aspects come together in Material Support, when we see her covering a canvas which refers to the 1865 promise of Forty acres and a mule for freed slaves - that it was never delivered is perhaps indicated by the letters being written backwards.  

Crossword, 2017 - 107 x 106 cm

Hermann Nitsch: Das Orgien Mysterien Theater @ Massimo de Carlo, 55 South Audley St - Mayfair

To May 25

This three floor survey with extensive film documentation of Nitsch's Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries, plenty of paintings and rooms full of relics gives a powerful overview of what Hermann Nitsch has done these 60 years. Plenty of transgressive and blasphemous animal slaughter, ceremony, nudity and crucifixion of course, but what’s it all about? Nitsch is an existentialist who seeks to maximise intensity by embracing extremes as - in his words - ‘the artist who is into meat and blood'. He believes that natural human instincts have been repressed, and that the rituals will release their energy, purify and redeem us. Even if you're not convinced, the spectacle remains.  


In The Future @ Collyer Bristow, 4 Bedford Row – Holborn

To 14 June

Installation view with Karen David

Law firm Collyer Bristow have, remarkably, now been using their offices to show art for 25 years*. And they’re big shows: 60-odd works by 20 artists appear in regulator curator Rosalind Davis’ latest, which uses a Talking Heads lyric even older than the gallery to set off thoughts about what the future might be like. Any danger of sci-fi similitude is countered by plenty of wit (eg Kitty Sterling, David Worthington, Sasha Bowles) and a good sprinkling of retro-futurism (Tim Ellis, John Greenwood and young German Arno Beck, who has the surprising idea in one of his age of using a typewriter to convert  digital images into deliciously delicate analogue equivalents). Four artists contribute especially large and coherent bodies of work: Dan Hays, Alison Turnbull, Ian Monroe and Karen David. You do need to know, I think, that the candies** are in David’s pictured installation because just that was used to lure E.T. from the woods.

* By appointment during office hours: and subject to meetings sometimes occupying rooms, so Friday afternoon is a good time to visit. Comes with a nice booklet.

** Odd what you can learn looking at art: Reese's Pieces are American packs of peanut butter candy spheres, manufactured by The Hershey Company in yellow, orange and brown. Sales tripled when, in one of the earliest such film product placements, they featured at a cost of $1m in ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, 1982.
Arno Beck: Textmode (Mountain), 2017 - typewriter drawing on Japanese paper     

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.