Sunday, 10 February 2019


SHOWS TO SEE: Up Now in London 

see also my Instagram feed as paulcareykent

Tom Wesselmann at Almine Rech to 23 March

You wouldn't instantly link him to abstraction, but that's how Wesselman started out and he returned to it, inspired by offcuts from his figurative steel drawings, in his last decade. Almine Rech sets out the story superbly with parallel streams of nudes and abstracts.Here's 'Three Step II' 2003.

Linder: Ever Standing Apart From Everything at Modern Art, Helmet Row to 16 March

Linder has a wide-ranging practice, but I can't remember when I last saw a comprehensive overview of what she's best known for: collage. Here, though, are more than 70 covering five years' work. They include her characteristic combinations of apparently free women - in the landscape, or in sexual activity - undermined by the imposition of household duties, but also all-male combinations an a new strand of 'Superautomatism' (as above) in which chance presses of paint perform the role of obscuring the image of nudes in a creeping censorship which might be ominous were it not so exuberant.

Hannah Luxton and Julie F Hill: Of Stars & Chasms at ArthouSE1, Bermondsey to 24 Feb

You don't have to travel so far as Katie Paterson's big show at Margate to get an art-dose of the universe in action (though I recommend it - as here). This combination of Hannah Luxton's cosmically minimal paintings ('Star Stream', 2019 above) with Julie F Hill's entrancing 40 minute film of deep space  and cascading sculptures of stars in a river of time will also do the job.

Peter Matthews: The End Is Where They Start From at Beers London to 23 Feb

Fans of process-driven abstraction would do well to visit Sadie Coles for Ryan Sullivan's jazzy improvisations, and catch Peter Matthews and Rebecca Meanley at the Concept Space in Bermondsey, as well as Beers' solo presentation of Matthews. His is the ultimate seaside studio, as the chance and weather-affected results of the two halves of his 'hybrid paintings' come out of time living in a tent beside the Pacific and Atlantic coasts (here - 'Chaac', 2018 -  Mexico and Cornwall). 

Grace Weir: Time Tries All Things at the Institute of Physics, Kings Cross to 29 March

Are you a bit hazy on how physicists think about time? Unsure what the alternative is to the block theory of the universe? You will be educated as well as entertained by Grace Weir’s 30 minute film in an impressive new space. Two leading scientists explain while she builds many cunning parallels about what they say into a two screen installation: the editing styles capture time variously and, for example, we see her photographing (the classic way to freeze time) a World War I memorial stone plaque declaring that time tries the truth of things, its remaking by a sculptor, the new version itself, and footage of the bird species which features on it...

Jerwood Solo Presentations 2019: Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom / Kitty Clark / Sofia Mitsola at the Jerwwod Space to 10 March

In the Jerwood's new three -person presentation two rooms appeal to me. Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom brings together drums, vegetation and Russ Meyer to set up a performative space without - until you arrive - people, and Kitty Clarke has an equally effective immersive space, setting evocative snatches of dialogue into a version of fairground ghosthouse architecture (installation shot above).

Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint at Estorick Collection to 7 April 

Not only is Fausto Melotti's 'Hanging Garden' 1970 serenely attractive, there's no weeding or watering required. From the Estorick's demonstration that the Italian (1901-1986) is more varied than previous UK showings have suggested. Melotti's dictum 'Zero is infinity in reverse' could be relevant... Moreover, other displays of Boccioni, Marini and Morandi are well worth seeing.

Amie Siegel: Backstory to 16 Feb at Thomas Dane Gallery

The presence or absence of Bridget Bardot in 'Contempt' lies at the core of Amie Siegel's dizzying combination of text and film works playing off Goddard's 1963 film and Alberto Moravia's novel 'A Ghost at Noon', 1954, on which it is itself based. Quite possibly the cleverest show currently on view - as I explain more fully in the February issue of Art Monthly.

Markéta Luskačová at Tate Britain to 12 March


Among the widespread moves to enhance the visibility of neglected female artists, Markéta Luskačová (born 1944) has a notably strong case, so it’s great to see that Tate Britain have dedicated a room to both her East European and – after she left Prague in 1975 - British photographs. This,  from the series ’Seaside, North East England' is typical: a grittily surreal monochrome which works in the detail as well as in the overall compositional, documentary and emotional aspects.

Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 


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Saturday, 9 February 2019


Art Rotterdam (7-10 Feb) and the associated shows and events in a dynamic and architecturally stimulating city are always interesting – I’ve been several times – and this was the 20th edition. There were 80 galleries showing in the iconic Van Nelle Factory site, plus several prizes and special exhibits. Several British galleries were present with good stands – Division of Labour, FOLD, IMT, l’étrangère – and the excellent Swiss gallery Barbara Seiler but that would have been a little easy. Here are my choices from the Union we’re about to leave…

DD Trans: Permanent, 2017, at Galerie Ramakers, The Hague (Stand 66)
Belgian artist DD Trans, having renamed himself after a passing truck, tweaks – Trans-forms, I suppose – everyday items, typically by fusing them in witty ways. Here a houseplant with leaves on the straight side is given a simultaneous perm and aesthetic facelift out of the ordinary, courtesy of hair rollers. I wanted to capture a suitable admirer, but the first wavy-locked art lover I asked turned me down unceremoniously, probably reckoning me some sort of hair fetishist. So thank you, Sabine!

Jan van Munster: Brainwave, 2004, at Galerie van den Berge, Goes, Netherlands – 60
The veteran Dutch artist’s practice centres on making forms of energy visible. I imagine him wondering, in that context, what he could do with neon and having the brainwave of using his own brainwave. Just so: he was hooked up to an ECG and has represented the energy of his creative thinking through various waves over the years. Black paint over white neon lets the inspiration shine around the edges.

Ed van der Elsken: Paris, 1970 at Annet Gelink, Amsterdam – 28
This image is hardly news: Ed van der Elsken (1925-90) is recognised as the most important Dutch photographer, and is a master of the street. But it feels as fresh as its baguette, and the news is that should be many more such little-seen colour works in the forthcoming exhibition at the Nederlands Fotomuseum (24 May – 6 Oct 2019), which will reveal for the first time the results of preserving and working with an archive of 42,000 slides from the estate.

Cristina Lucas: Tufting (Middle East), 2017, at tegenboschvanvreden, Amsterdam – 32
The Spanish artist’s machine-embroideries on vulnerable silk map the world, but with a curious distribution of place names which drew me in. It turns out that they show where bombs have been dropped on civilians, as made by ‘dropping’ the relevant name. Hence the geographical features of the most troubled areas have been virtually obliterated. The images stems from her impressive film project ‘Unending Lightning’, updated on a rolling basis since 2015-present with all such acts since 1911.

Polonca Lovšin: The Lemon Jacket, 2009, at P74 Gallery, Ljubljana – 67
The Slovenian artist showed considerable invention in her presentation of items alongside documentation of their use: an umbrella-come-come parasol with a built-in water bottle carrier, and this – very small – personal light powered sustainably by a jacket of lemons. Neither idea is quite plausible enough to be design, rather than art experiment, but there is scope to question the boundary – and to muse on them as acts of personal resistance to mass-produced modes of living.

Jos van Merendonk: Untitled wall installation, 2019, at Hidde van Seggelen, Hamburg – 21
Jos van Merendonk applies rules to geometric abstraction until he ends up in a conceptual space. He doesn’t have too many problems procuring his materials, using only standard sizes of square canvas and one colour: chromium oxide green. Then he restricts himself to three shapes derived from a drawing he once happened to make: knot, oval and ‘Z’. Yet his palimpsestic installation at the fair had a lively feel, surprising until you consider he does use all sorts of mark-making devices, and that there are 120 million ways to play the first three moves of a game of chess…

Alex Farrar: Ecstatic (night sweat painting), 2019, at Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague – N 06
London/Amsterdam based Alex Farrar asked one half of several couples to draw the outline of their partner’s sleeping position onto a bedsheet. He then applied a silicone-based paint to reveal where the body touched the material – as none of the pillowed head does. The results are simple yet intimate and rich: Yves Klein’s anthropometry paintings, Floris Neussis’ photograms, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (billboard of an empty bed) and Thom Gunn’s poetry in The Man with Night Sweats come to mind.

Giuseppe De Mattia: Made in Germany, 2015, at Matèria, Rome – 75
We’re all familiar with how people test out pens on a notepad before buying one – indeed, Navid Nuur has used the practice to drive one of his ingenious streams of work. I thought something similar might be in operation here, as the eponymous ‘Made in Germany’ is on the jotting pads on which intricate yet somewhat casual drawings have been made. In fact, the Italian artist Giuseppe De Mattia has collaborated over some years with a pen salesman who draws on the test pads knowing full well that they will become his art. The dance between conception and execution, accidental and deliberate, art and life gets a new twist.

Mariken WesselsArising from the Ground , 2018-19, at The Ravestijn Gallery, Amsterdam – 35
Amsterdam artist Mariken Wessels was sufficiently inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s little-known studies of the motion of an obese person that she bought them from an auction and embarked on a series of photographs and sculptures. Choosing white rather than flesh colour in both photographic and ceramic works, allowing the water’s distortions and her sculptural editing all tend toward abstracting the body while engaging with its fascinating qualities in one of the more left-field presentations at the fair.

Sarah Smolders: from the series 9 Windows, 2018, at mariondecannière, Antwerp – 11
The non-commercial gallery, which supports a succession of artists for a year rather than representing a few longer term, brought a set of life-sized windows to its booth. Though it looks as if the Belgian artist Sarah Smolders has intervened in gold, they are simply the outsides of the windows of the School of Art in Ghent, as photographed from a scaffold. These originally had highly distinctive textured panes of glass covered in gold leaf, but as that has broken over the years it has been replaced by various other types of glass, which has been cracked and occluded in its turn, forming a grammar of sorts.

Lara Almarcegui: Buried House (Dallas), 2013, at Ellen de Bruijne Projects – 41 / Projections
Art Rotterdam – alone among the fairs I’ve been to – presents artists’ films optimally. I loved the ludicrous yet logical nature of the Rotterdam-based Spaniard Lara Almarcegui’s work in the ‘Projections’ section. Doesn’t a house which has been so central to its inhabitants’ lives deserve some respect at the end of its own? So it is that we follow not just a demolition, but a respectful burial of the remains of this house, which ends up as a small hill in the garden.

Rafaël Rozendaal: Abstract Browsing series, 2019, at Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam – 27
New York based Dutch-Brazilian Rafaël Rozendaal is best known for creating websites as artworks in which geometries mutate. Yet he is interested in both sides of the virtual-physical interface, so it makes sense that he sees an analogy between the pixel and the loom, and transforms his online starting point to tapestries depicting the underlying structure of websites. Now, though, it’s the viewer who needs to move to generate a change in the image

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.