Alexis Harding at Watson Farley and Williams LLP , 15 Appold Street, near Liverpool St to June 31
The most surprising inclusion in Alexis Harding's show is a set of 12 boulder-like forms of oil and gloss paint such as 'June' 2019 above (no prizes for guessing the other 11 titles). But there are also 50 paintings in a comprehensive and powerful solo survey in the offices of Watson Farley Williams - best visiting time is Friday, when the lawyers tend to work from home.
Massimo Vitali: Short Stories at Mazzoleni Art to 24 May
'Short Stories' shows why Vitali should be considered the finest street photographer never to actually shoot in the street. It's easy to assume that his many beach scenes - typically taken from a tripod in the water - are much the same, but Vitali's own picture by picture commentary on 12 huge prints proves that isn't so. In 'Catania Under the Volcano' 2007 people are grouped geometrically by the artificial beach set on scaffolding necessitated by the volcanic landscape, the submerged lava from which gives the sea its particular darkness.
It was Julian Stańczak (b. 1928 Borownica, Poland – d. 2017 Ohio, United States) whose paintings led to the coinage ‘Op Art’ in 1964, and this show suggests he should be ranked with Riley, Vasarely and Cruz-Diez. One strand is his ‘see throughs’, which lead in 'Assemble', 1973-74, to the teasing illusion of box form which doesn’t quite make sense. Stańczak said the series had a self-analytical aspect, referring to how ‘sometimes there is an invisible wall between me and out there. That wall is in every human being. There is the complexity of oneself and the outside, and how I view myself and how the outside views me, and the person I really am is still another third person'.
Some of the Chicago Imagists are well known – Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum, Christina Ramberg , Gladys Nilsson – but there are 14 at Goldsmiths. Among the others employing the typical flattened forms, repeated patterns, disparate sources and a humorous outlook which extended to them showing collectively as The Hairy Who is Roger Brown. Here is his ‘Misty Morning’ 1975, in which a lorry interrupts a rather original depiction of a rural idyll.
David Salle: Musicality and Humour at Skarstedt Gallery to 25 May
Caroline Jane Harris: A Three-Dimensional Sky at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth to 11 May
Caroline Jane Harris's solo show uses historic lantern slides and her own photos as sources, layering them with positive cut-outs and etchings of the consequent negative shapes of the images' bitmaps to set up a dizzying interchange between analogue sources and digital representations. Additional elements of original image capture and apparent fragility are built into the cloudscape 'A Three Dimensional Sky', in which the print is veiled by the cut-out of a translucent tissue paper normally used to clean camera lenses...
Allan Sekula: Photography, A Wonderfully Inadequate Medium at Marian Goodman Gallery to 18 May
If you’re in the mood for rewarding hard work, set aside an afternoon for a museum-standard survey of Allan Sekula’s career. There are 13 projects here, but the key, linked, ones are the photo and text based ‘Fish Story’ 1989-95 and the 3 hour film ‘The Lottery of the Sea’ (still above). They use the sea as a metaphor for the global reach of capitalism, and aim to effect a radical critique by foregrounding the typically hidden role of labour in trade. Sekula counters post-modernist accounts of the simulacral with the gritty material realities of exploitation, industrial decline, uncontrolled growth and pollution. Maritime industry is seen as a representative infrastructure of globalism. The Internet has subsequently increased the impression that the world operates through frictionless capitalism, increasing Sekula’s relevance. That said, another way of putting that is: hundreds of images of ships, ports and workers - not for everyone...
The Anglo-Cypriot’s multi-media practice, yo-yoing between the dirty and the transcendental, is well surveyed here through film, photography ceramic tiles and sculpture as well as paintings, which includes what might be called 'op expanders' paired with hallucinatory flowers and fruit. Hulusi has chopped up and coloured his formerly black and white 'expanders' to tweak the trippiness which contrasts - or maybe doesn't – with the lush visual consumption of flora.
The titular date was when the artist filched snowmen and balls from children's playgrounds in his native Lithuania. And here they are in London, kept at -3°C in a giant fridge you can walk into to ponder the question: if your country is chock full of Soviet legacies, what do you preserve? Unusual in that these are perfectly ordinary objects, and yet the show has a definite wow factor.
Sylvie Fleury & Gerwald Rockenschaub at Thaddaeus Ropac to 11 May
Sylvie Fleury used to say she was a painter, but only on her face. Now several of her acrylic on canvas on wood versions of make-up palettes are included in a neat survey. The glowering ‘Private shadow - Emerald Sun’, 2018, seen here (in Ben Westaboy's photo) above a comically deflated phallic rocket, is particularly seductive as a minimalist abstraction through which we might travel – in the absence of branding - from fashion to art and wonder about the differences in objects of desire. And the larger show of Rockenschaub's site-specific pop-minimalism is the perfect complement: a related language used to different ends.
Entre Tot, with ‘One Dozen Rain Postcards’ 1971-73, is one of the standouts in Jeremy Cooper’s wonderful show of over 300 postcard works at the British Museum. The Hungarian artist typed dashes of rain plus titles onto purple Xerox copies to make visual jokes which deconstruct the nature of typologies, conceptual art’s typical use of the typewriter at the time, and the normal expectation that a postcard will report on places and weather conditions the recipient. Moreover, there are Cooper-related postcard shows at Danielle Arnaud and Tintype.
‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?' at Patrick Heide, Marylebone to 13 April
The best Brexit-related show I’ve seen is Patrick Heide's joint production with Bartha Contemporary. It’s full of subtle abstractions which can be read as relevant to issues of belonging, choice and identity. In the fireplace, though, is something more incendiary: New York based Stefana McClure grew up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and one stream of her work wraps actual protest stones from the street with newspaper articles she dislikes and hurls them repeatedly against her studio wall. For ‘Protest Stones (Brexit)’ 2019 they are articles on Brexit – I’m guessing the Irish backstop looms large...
Anna-Bella Papp, Katinka Bock, Esther Kläs, Helen Mirra, Hayley Tompkins at Modern Art, Vyner Street to 13 April
New bodies of work from five artists, The highlights are Hayley Tompkins' (no relation) pools of colour in wall-mounted plastic boxes and a 'self-portrait' as a stool, titled LB after her birthplace Leighton Buzzard; and Anna-Bella Papp's ‘Plans for an unused land’, a sequence of hand-sculpted, tablet-like forms which form another form of self-portrait through her speculations on possible uses of a parcel of land which she may inherit - from sculpture park to farming options to highway - which she details charmingly in an accompanying text.
Sarah Pichlkostner: I'd ride on a rock and go take a bite if moon was cookie and Belén Rodríguez: I turn Chilli Red at Josh Lilley Gallery to 6 April
Tracey Emin taking a selfie with some of the 50 blown-up selfies in her Insomnia installation. It's 'like an early death from within' she says. For the past four years she has taken selfies and selected some to blow up with an impressive range of bedwear and a lack of vanity which extends to a couple with a fat lip. This, the freshest part of her huge and effective new show, might be seen as an update on the famous bed.
Grace Weir: Time Tries All Things at the Institute of Physics, Kings Cross to 29 March
Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint at Estorick Collection to 7 April
Equilibrium. An idea for Italian sculpture at Mazzoleni Gallery to 5 April
Melotti also features in this cool show of Italian sculpture, much of which looks as if it could lose its balance any time. Here is Remo Salvadori's 'Verticale' 1991, which simply encircles a roll of copper with a cord to provide a tenuous structure on which a tabular flatness, a very large glass and one normal glass (plus the odd unauthorised addition at the opening) are balanced to suggest relationships just about in equilibrium. Is that a heavy drinker paired with a moderate one?
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.