Saturday, 27 March 2010


By and large the big shows in the big galleries may be best - but the smaller galleries and temporary spaces and sub-projects of major players offer the pleasure of the less expected, the chance to make discoveries ahead of the curve, the gallerist there to talk to you in person rather than an assistant - all of which may come with high quality, too. In which spirit I have this time around set aside such excellent shows as at Camden, the Parasol Unit, Alison Jacques, Lisson, Modern Art and the Dulwich Picture Gallery to stick to what may for various reasons be a little less obvious...

Piers Secunda

Mob Remedies @ Gallery Primo Alonso, 395-397 Hackney Road – Cambridge Heath

To 25 April:

The visibly non-commercial Primo Alonso – just east of the Hackney City Farm – has been run rather heroically against the odds for three years now by young artists Angelica Sule, Paul Murphy and Richard Gallagher. In this typically adventurous installation guest curator Piers Secunda (born 1976) shows a new work made from some half a mile of wires sculpted with paint. He’s joined by Lothar Götz, who gives the show an architectural stage through colour blocks on the walls; Natasha Kidd, who pumps paint round the space like a vital fluid; and George Barber, who shows a film of action painting carried out by cars. It’s an uplifting totality: not a canvas in sight, but full of the joy of paint and colour unlimited by any such constraints.

My Work Here is Done X

Steve Bishop: Sheer Fatigue @ Christopher Crescent. 24 Tudor Grove - Hackney

To 10 April:

Simon Christopher’s unmarked first floor space on a back road two turns off Mare Street is in the middle of a run of shows by recent RCA students. Steve Bishop has already gained attention for his sculptural combinations of taxidermied foxes with neon tubes, but ‘Sheer Fatigue’ is much cooler fare. ‘My Work Here is Done’ is a series in which said tights are stretched around glass from coffee tables and TV stands to make fetishised abstractions which achieve improbably painterly effects by exploiting the accidents of process – most of Bishop’s work here is done in the selection of materials. Another accident is implied by smashed safety glass from just such panels (it does shatter, right enough, but not into jagged shards). That litters the floor and links the tights, along with the pun on ‘sheer’, to the cracked paving stone of the photograph ‘Sheer Fatigue’. Not just tights, but tight.

Bas van den Hurk: Organising the Non-obvious II @ Rod Barton, 1 Paget St - Angel Islington

To 24 April (Saturdays 12-6):

A garage hidden in a side-street near Sadler's Wells, open six hours a week and showing just a few Dutch metapaintings? That's as non-obvious as it gets, I grant, but Bas van den Hurk's work is actually well worth seeking out. When I say he makes metapaintings, I mean that rather as a philosopher is more interested in the question 'is there a world in which lunch will occur?' than 'what's on the menu?', Van den Hurk is more interested in the question 'is that a painting?' than 'what is that a painting of?'. What if, for example, the picture represents itself but hung askew, or a necklace is hanging off the bottom of the canvas, or a cheap reproduction of a previous work forms the background? What if, just as you are marvelling at the painter's skill in capturing a marbled pattern, you notice that the canvas is, in fact, covered by a printed fabric? The questions go back at least as far as Frank Stella and Blinky Palermo in the sixties, but Van den Hurk's fresh examination generates its own aesthetic. And part I of the show? It's in Amsterdam, obviously.

The bathroom scales from 'Home Suite' (Voice-over:'I don't trust them all that much actually'.)

John Smith - Solo Show @ the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore

To 13 April:

The RCA students of curating have put on a large overview of the films of John Smith, ranging from what he himself made at the RCA forty years ago to brand new material. There are 16 works which would take six hours to watch in their entirety, but they're made navigable by excellent presentation: varied installations; run times clearly given; medium length items can be started on demand; longer more narrative items - though Smith loves to pull you into a narrative then out again by revealing its artifice - have advertised start times. Smith's most consistent strand sees almost perversely banal images given a humorous and revealing spin through his deadpan and structurally savvy commentaries, playing, for example, with how sound can trump image. Thus in the seminal 'The Girl Chewing Gum' (1972) the director of a film absurdly pretends to control action he is merely describing; in Home Suite (1993-94) a tip of a house is described with implausible affection; and in Hotel Diaries
(2001-07) the hotel rooms are all we see of the narrator's international experiences. And it's a measure of Smith's range that this magnificent show still omits a couple of my favourites.

Henning Bohl: Corner of a Cornfield @ Cubitt, 8 Angel Mews - Islington

To 25 April 2010:

Berlin-based Henning Bohl (born 1975) has his first substantial show in England at the artist collective’s space tucked away near Angel tube. It’s a playful and theatrical take on painting as sculpture. While perversely embracing the constraint of a pre-determined set of forms – abstracted from Kabucki Theatre faces – which he reworks obsessively, Bohl resists the more familiar expectations that works look pristine (sections appear to be peeling away from the canvas like curling posters, creating a novel aesthetic) and that paintings be hung on the gallery’s walls, which he pretty-much mocks by choosing instead to show them on elaborate trestle constructions. The title refers to a painting by the Liverpool pre-Raphaelite William Davis – an appropriately eccentric way for Bohl to indicate that he will not be following conventions, Davis having focused on an unregarded aspect of the scene. I wasn’t convinced that layer was necessary, but it does give a suitably implausible title to a show which may sound rather academic but feels far from stuffy.

Block 3

Benjamin Beker: Blocks @ Flowers East, 82 Kingsland Rd - Shoreditch

To 24 April:

Flowers is 40 years old this year and not the most obscure gallery - but it would be easy to overlook a small exhibition hidden above the Peter Howson show in their big East End space. Howson himself provokes strong feelings, but those of a sensitive disposition can rush upstairs to the young Serbian photographer Benjamin Beker. He has developed three interesting sets of work out of the former socialist republic of Yugoslavia: cleanly edited re-presentations of monuments; the interiors of former government buildings; and as shown here, would-be ideal housing fallen on tougher times. In the 'The Blocks' Beker combines documentary elements to make artificial constructs in a way which resembles the curious nature of Yugoslavia, which was a melding of different nations into an artificial whole. His punchily attractive work deals, then, with the often tenuous distinctions between the real and the artificial, and with the disappointments but also the persistence of failed dreams and lost ideals.

See for my interview with Benjamin.

Still from Tereza Bušková: ‘Spring Equinox’,

All that Remains… the Teenagers of Socialism @ Waterside Project Space, Unit 8, 44-48 Wharf Rd – Hoxton

To 11 April:

Keep going north up Wharf Road past Victoria Miro for the surprisingly large Waterside Project Space, where you’ll find the work of eight artists who were teenagers when the Berlin Wall fell – see also Benjamin Beker above – and so have a ghostly view of socialism tied in to their memories of childhood. We see that mixture most directly in Ştefan Constantinescu’s beautifully constructed pop-up book ‘The Golden Age for Children’, an ironic history of Ceausescu’s Romania. But my favourite work here is Czech émigré Tereza Bušková’s (say ‘Bushkovar’) surreal ten minutes of ‘Spring Equinox’: it merges rural Moldavia with performance art in a celebration of traditional costumes and rituals, pointedly leapfrogging the communist period to make for a bright vernal fillip.

Laure Prouvost: It, hit, heat @ Tate Britain – Millbank

To 2 May:

Tate Britain’s Lightbox is a more extreme version of my Flowers argument above - that a small show hidden in a big institution is easily overlooked. There you should allocate twelve minutes for a video mugging from London-based French artist Laure Prouvost. She starts - on the big, in-your-face screen - with the warning that the six minute film ‘requires all of your attention. Each detail of Part 1 will be essential to Part 2’. Her weapons are a dizzyingly rapid stream of mismatched images and words and a menacing drum. The countdown structure seems to imply a violent happening, but the narrative is as blurred as the style is sharp. There are instructions and tests. You will fail, I predict, but stay on for a second attempt.

Nathaniel Rackowe @ The Delfina Foundation, 29 Catherine Place - Victoria

To 23 April:

Is Victoria the new Hoxton? If you add the lively stack of three galleries at 276 Vauxhall Bridge Road (in a one year project initiated by Edel Assanti) to Eleven, Orel, Postbox and the Delfina project space then you have the makings of a lively zone. The last of those is the area’s current stand-out: there the sculptor Nathaniel Rackowe, known for his liminal and theatrical light-spilling takes on the contested territories of modernism and its architectures, shows new work from a residency in Beirut. One boundary which Rackowe explores more fully than before is that between two and three dimensions. He moves towards the two dimensional in sculptures formed by a corrugated roof on the floor and a flatpack kit for a shed against a wall, and arrives there fully in the first paintings/drawings he has exhibited: a duo-toned series which stays true to the built environment by combining bitumen and household gloss to great effect. They are based on features isolated from building sites in Beirut, where incidentally Rackowe went with his wife,Rana Begum, whose equally good show preceded her husband's at Delfina.

Anni Albers: Prints and Studies @ Alan Cristea, 31 Cork St - Central

To 17 April:

Talking of husbands and wives, a major Albers retrospective may sound decidedly mainstream - but this is Anni Albers, not yet another presentation of Josef's homages to the square. Sexist attitudes restricted Anni (1899-1993) to the textile workshop at the Bauhaus in the 20's and early 30's, but she became the most famous weaver of her day. She was also, to quote the ceramicist Edmund de Waal (a fan who gave an illuminating introductory talk and is showing with her at Alan Cristea) a 'ferocious teacher' and 'polemical writer'. Albers switched to prints from 1963 onwards, and they're all here. The rhythm and seriality of the loom may lie behind her use of repetition 'not just as a way of pacing a life, but as a way of making sense of what you do' - de Waal again - though they are much more geometric and less handmade in appearance than one might expect from her background. For me, they work because her energy comes through: a favourite motif is multiple triangles, and they really do dance.

Still showing from previous lists: William Tillyer to 3 April, Dan Perfect to 7 April, Paul Feiler to 9 April, Pierre Ardouvin to 9 April, Alex Katz to 9 April, Kathy Prendergast to 10 April, David Hockney/Andy Holden to 10 April, Uriel Orlow to 10 April, Kay Donachie to 11 April, David Korty to 17 April, William Tucker to 24 April, Ben Rivers to 2 May, Mat Collishaw to 9 May, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot to 23 May. gives full address and opening time details of most shows


I am looking forward to:

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov @ Sprovieri 30.3 - 30.5

Angela de la Cruz @ Camden Arts Centre 2.4 – 30.5

Martin Honert @ Bloomberg 7.4 - 15.5

Laure Prouvost @ Flat Time House 8.4 - 25.4

Jean-Luc Mylayne @ Sprueth Magers 16.4 – 6.6

Leigh Ledare @ Pilar Corrias 16.4 – 6.6

JaffaCakes Tel Aviv @ 33-34 Hoxton Square 16.4 - 15.5

Martin Mull @ Ben Brown 21.4 – 5.6

Antoni Tàpies @ Waddington 21.4 – 15.5

Jannis Kounellis @ P3: 23.4 – 30.5

Friday, 19 March 2010


This is something of a ‘grand old man’ special. Cork Street is by now the grand old man of art gallery streets, and as a whole is increasingly off the pace - but it still has several excellent galleries. Currently you can see two rather underrated grand old men there - William Tillyer (71) and Paul Feiler (91). Add Alex Katz (82) at Timothy Taylor and William Tucker (75) at Pangolin (and note in passing that Richard Hamilton (88) is currently occupying the Serpentine) and a theme begins to emerge - though there are plenty of young pretenders, too, and not of course all men. So, in order of date of birth, from 1918 onwards, we have:

Square Relief XIX

Paul Feiler: Elusive Space @ The Redfern Gallery, 20 Cork St – Central

To 9 April:

Paul Feiler, who was born in Frankfurt during World War I and interned in England during World War II, showed with Lanyon, Scott and Heron in the 1950’s. This 70-work survey takes you from more generic school of St Ives work through to the 'circle in square' motif on which Feiler has focused obsessively in recent decades as he came late into his characteristic voice - though there is no work from the 70's or 80's, perhaps related to the long-lasting Redfern representing Feiler only in the 50's and since 1993. Playing on the palindrome of his name (Feiler-Relief), Feiler often uses intricate constructions in order to complicate the painted space – most recently exploiting the way pieces of perspex can be seen and seen through and react to their surroundings. The total effect is a geometrically-based intensity which takes on a spiritual aspect with the suggestion of something unknown lying beyond a shrine-like gateway: consonant with Mondrian's goals,perhaps, but retuned to Cornwall's atmosphere and colours.

Alex Katz @ Timothy Taylor, 15 Carlos Place - Mayfair

To 9 April: Ada

I'll be honest and say up front that the now-very-fashionable American painter Alex Katz (born 1928) hasn't been a particular past favourite of mine. All the more interesting, then, to find myself struck by the dramatic and large scale emergence from black of the latest portrait of his poised and elegant wife. Ada Katz (née del Moro, a biologist from an Italian family in the Bronx) can surely claim some kind of muse record, having been Alex's constant model during more than fifty years of marriage. She is well into her seventies now, but her husband's cooly elegant style of fluid wet in wet simplification has no place for wrinkles, and she certainly looks enigmatically good on it here. It's no surprise, then, that Katz has called her 'the perfect model', being 'both a European beauty and an American beauty'. Reason to look forward to the National Portrait Gallery's Katz retrospective, scheduled for 15 May - 21 September.

Maquette for 'Emperor'

William Tucker @ Pangolin, Kings Place, 90 York Way – King’s Cross

To 24 April:

William Tucker (born 1935) was one of the most visible sculptural presences in Britain among the post-Caro generation, but leaving for America in the mid-seventies has reduced his profile here. The foundry-linked gallery Pangolin is well-placed to rectify that with a mixture of maquettes and full-scale bronzes from the last two decades. Tucker’s method is to look for chance forms in the abstract shapes he makes in clay or plaster, and then exploit them. What at first appears to be a hulking non-figurative man-sized lump resolves itself into – say – a giant hand from one viewpoint, but remains resolutely abstract from other angles: the perceptual to-and-fro carries on. Another potential layer is added by the titles, often resonant of the ancient past from which these could be fragments. Don’t miss the extra drawings in the windows, and two of the biggest and best pieces – the fallen head of ‘Emperor’ and the massive take-off readied foot of ‘Messenger’ – in amongst the sculpture trail dotted round the concourse.

Aluminium Cloud

William Tillyer @ Bernard Jacobson, 6 Cork St - Central

To 3 April:

Bernard Jacobson is giving William Tillyer (born 1938) the compliment of a four-show season: prints, paintings, watercolours, new paintings. The second part, which defines 'paintings' very broadly, reveals him as a man of metal and cloud. The metal is seen at its purest in the radically geometric early piece 'Fifteen Draw Pulls' and at its best in the recent works in which the modernist grid is made literal in the form of steel lattices which serve as the ground for paint. The clouds range from painterly and etched evocations to a cabinet of pebbles transformed by the title 'Twelve Stacked Clouds'. The two come together in 'Aluminium Cloud', one of a series in which, to quote Tillyer 'the surfaces and structures of the support were to be as a piece of hardware, and as an obstacle to the paint as a protest'. All of which - and more, such as one painting so bursting with ambition it has to be held back with nylon straps - reveals just how ceaselessly enquiring and innovative Tillyer has been in his combinations of man-made and natural sources over the past 40-odd years.

bouquet fané

Pierre Ardouvin: The Unnamable @ Museum 52, 52 Redchurch St - Shoreditch

To 9 April:

French artist Pierre Ardouvin (born 1955) ranges widely, with previous work having spanned wheelbarrow people, an animated rubber ring and a bumper car with slowed-down karaoke. He aims to be wittily bleak, so it fits that the light which tracks your movements around Museum 52's back space should do so to mechanically-narrated fragments of Samuel Beckett. To get there you must pass through a stage curtain undermined by holes and an incongruous installation of flowers (on antique tables) and snowballs (on the floor). The latter are obviously fake - though even so, who threw them? - whereas the former are wilted and dying. What would be the point of making artificial flowers in that state? But fake, of course, they are. Add some collages which turn postcards into something else - such as a stalactited cave into a shaggy dog - by the addition of adjoining watercolour, and you have a perversely contradictory show, the exact atmosphere of which is just about... unnamable.

North American South West (detail)

Kathy Prendergast: The Black Map Series @ Peer, 99 Hoxton St – Hoxton

To 10 April:

It’s not unusual to find work which has a very different impact from afar than from up close (Chuck Close, for example). But these map works are impressively different from not two but three distances: from well back they look like black monochromes; from five feet away they look like the night sky, an effect caused by London-based Irish artist Kathy Prendergast (born 1958)inking out everything but the points of settlement; and from up close, when the names of the towns and other details can be discerned, they look like ominously redacted versions of Ecuador and Poland (to name two of the six). They are also, as Catherine Nash says in the informative accompanying booklet, ‘the product of abstracting and selecting from maps that are already abstractions, reductions, already partial’ and push the cartographic method further ‘to reveal an ambiguous poetics of pattern and absence’.

Mat Collishaw: Retrospectre @ BFI Gallery - South Bank

To 9 May:

What are the most innovative public spaces in London? They may not get the publicity, but you could certainly make a case for the Barbican’s Curve and the British Film Institute's gallery. Which YBA has had the best shows recently? He may not have the public profile of some others, but you could certainly make a case for Mat Collishaw (born 1966). He has been developing convincing new series using squashed butterflies, zoetropes and moving images in mirrors; and hot on the heels of his resonant matches with the Freud and Foundling Museums, has a spectacular new work at the BFI. ‘Retrospectre’ was commissioned to respond to a season of films by the cult Armenian film director Paradjanov, which it may well do, but it feels pure Collishaw: five minutes of psychologically-charged video collage – horses, lightning, animal cries, peacocks, smoke - are dramatically back-projected on the multiple screens of what he calls ‘a sort of wooden shrine, most of the width of the gallery space, made from salvaged sections of alterpieces and old sash windows’. Hold on to your pneuma, to use a word at one with Collishaw’s Victorianist tendencies…

I do believe that most of me floats under water

Kaye Donachie @ Maureen Paley,21 Herald St - Bethnal Green

To 11 April:

This fourth solo show with Maureen Paley for Kaye Donachie (born 1970) sees her supplement her paintings with an engaging 20 minute selection of short films. These range from the out-takes remaining from a lost film involving Duchamp to James Broughton’s ‘High Kukus’ reflections from a lake (‘never expect anything’ said the tadpole ‘and everything will surprise you’) to Edna St Vincent Millay reading a section of her poetry journal, which provides titles for the paintings:

I do believe that most of me
Floats under water; and men see
Above the wave a jagged small
Mountain of ice, and that is all.
Only the depths of other peaks
May know my substance when it speaks,
And steadfast through the grinding jam
Remain aware of what I am.
Myself, I think, shall never know
How far beneath the wave I go.

The films pick up on Donachie’s typically intimate engagement with historic countercultures, also seen in the six portraits of female icons such as Mina Loy, Nina Hamnett and Millay. What I like most, though, is how their faces are variously integrated with night skies, landscapes and still lives in a sort of muted take on surrealism which left me wondering whether the women are interiorizing or overwhelmed by their environments.

Television with Herringbone Wallpaper

David Korty @ Sadie Coles HQ, 69 South Audley St - Mayfair

To 17 April:

Alex Katz came to mind, and not I think just because I’d seen his show a few hundred yards away, in the recent work of LA painter David Korty (born 1971). Some of the same easy simplification, clear colour (whereas Korty used to have a penchant for the chalky) and melding of abstract elements into figuration. All of which works best in geometrically-inclined objects with a touch of Stuart Davies: a telephone booth, a gas pump, a television. The mask-like or actually masked faces in other paintings are less engaging, as if to suggest – paradoxically, perhaps, through the most traditional of media – the danger that the means of communication can nowadays hold more interest than the people we reach through them. Don’t miss the side room, which runs the themes through twenty-odd seductive watercolours.

Ben Rivers: Origin of the Species @ Kate MacGarry, 7a Vyner St – Cambridge Heath

To 2 May:

I’m always a little disappointed if a video – however good – is presented no differently in a gallery than it might have been at home. This is more like it: English artist Ben Rivers (born 1972), new to Kate MacGarry’s roster, very visibly uses analogue film – old stock with scratches and blips built in as if pre-distressed for an archive – and he presents it in a ramshackle hut. That’s doubly appropriate: first, because Rivers is thematically interested in the construction of worlds, for example by filming models as apparent realities, or tracking down loners living outside society; second, because this particular constructed world is that of an old man living in just such a hut in the Scottish highlands – his idyll, perhaps, if not all that luxurious. In it we see 16 minutes of beautifully gloom-lit footage focused on the man’s eccentric engineering and his forest surroundings while we hear him talk of a life-long obsession with evolution – all of which achieves an unsentimental acceptance of how people themselves turn out.

Still showing from previous lists: Bernard Frize to 24 March, Rula Halawani to 25 March, Chiharu Shiota to 27 March, Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes to 27 March, Philipp Goldbach @ Annely Juda to 27 March, Graham Dolphin to 27 March, Sensescapes to 28 March, Frances Young to 28 March,Peeping Tom to 28 March, Crash: Homage to JG Ballard to 1 April, Franz Ackermann to 1 April, Ian Breakwell to 1 April, Dan Perfect to 7 April, David Hockney/Andy Holden to 10 April, Uriel Orlow to 10 April, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot to 23 May. gives full address and opening time details of most shows


I am looking forward to:

Benjamin Beker @ Flowers East: 26.3 - 24.4

Nathaniel Rackowe @ Delfina Foundation 26.3 - 23.4

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov @ Sprovieri 30.3 - 30.5

Angela de la Cruz @ Camden Arts Centre 2.4 – 30.5

Martin Honert @ Bloomberg 7.4 - 15.5

Jean-Luc Mylayne @ Sprueth Magers 16.4 – 6.6

Leigh Ledare @ Pilar Corrias 16.4 – 6.6

Martin Mull @ Ben Brown 21.4 – 5.6

Antoni Tàpies @ Waddington 21.4 – 15.5

Jannis Kounellis @ P3: 23.4 – 30.5

Monday, 8 March 2010


Of course lots of the artists on view in London's galleries are themselves from London, but it shows how London acts as a world centre for art that I can feature so many artists based elsewhere: Germany (Shiota, Werner, Ackermann, Goldbach), France (Zarka, Broisat, Boursier-Mougenot, Frize), USA (Burns), Switzerland (Orlow, Porritt) and Newcastle - Graham Dolphin's base is after all further from London than is Paris. Quite a few of the gallerists come from elsewhere, too, and the edgy watch-your-eyeliner video still above is from a short film by Vienna-based Esther Stocker which features in Rokeby's 'Zero Budget Biennial'.

from here to ear

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot: @ Curve Gallery, Barbican - Farringdon

To 23 May:

Boursier-Mougenot is a French musician and artist who explores unexpected means of making sound: his best-known previous works are a paddling pool with floating crockery which chimes as it collides, and a fleet of hoovers attached to harmonicas. The Curve features close up film of guitar players but to the ‘sound of the images’, ie derived from the video signal, leading into the main event: a flock of 40 zebra finches, kept in place by light levels alone, create a soundscape as they hop on and off guitars. Their movements are largely in response to the 25 visitors allowed to wander among them at any one time, and the resulting chirpy-chirpy thrum-thrum works remarkably well - much more consistently than you might expect. Aurally it ends up somewhere in the middle of John Cage’s use of chance, Messian’s bird song transcriptions and an outcrop from Sonic Youth’s unorthodox tunings. The whole ensemble may well be the most memorable in a London gallery now.

One Place

Chiharu Shiota: One Place @ Haunch of Venison, 6 Burlington Gardens – Central

To 27 March:

Berlin-based Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota showed one of her impenetrable room-enveloping cocoons of black thread in the Hayward’s ‘Walking in my Mind’ last year, and she does the same to powerful psychological effect here in ‘During Sleep’, a bed caught up in the thread drawing in air which originates in her own childhood dreams and anxieties. So far, so good if single trick, you might think, but the titular ‘One Place’ makes equally rich and spectacular use of 400 window frames collected from demolition sites near the Berlin Wall, making a ceiling-high barrier – albeit one as open as the former border now is – which recalls what people in East Germany could see but not reach before the wall came down. And the installation, with the windows reaching up as if seeking the high skylight, makes for Haunch of Venison’s best use yet of Burlington House.

Raphaël Zarka: still from 'Riding Modern Art'

Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes @ Bischoff/Weiss, 14A Hay Hill – Central

To 27 March:

It’s good to see that, following four years in Shoreditch, adventurous continental gallerists Raphaëlle Bischoff and Paola Weiss have reopened in Mayfair. Their first full show there sees Aicon’s Niru Ratnam guest curate a winning choice of three artists who give new contexts to what already exists. Appropriation plus, if you like, from Alicja Kwade, Matthew Smith and upcoming French artist Raphaël Zarka, who stars with his new uses for forms haunted by historical, scientific and cultural resonances. Here he shows beautiful photographs of minimalism found in remnants of built environments and a most diverting four minutes of French kids ‘Riding Modern Art’ – that is, showing off their skateboarding skills on geometric sculptures: Plato brought bang up to date.

Ian Burns: Glacier

Sensescapes @ Nettie Horn, 25B Vyner St – Cambridge Heath

To 28 March:

Two more female gallerists with French backgrounds? Mais oui, and Danielle Horn and Marie Favier must be among the hardest-working: very much hands-on in curating and installing a new show every month (no long runs for them!) as well as being the visible day to day faces of Nettie Horn. Their latest brings together four artists who use the technicalities of presentation to illustrate how subjectivity affects what we make of the world. That works most directly in the contrast between New York-based Australian Ian Burns’ mechanical sculpture, which makes the patently virtual look real by means of a video feed which turns a fan-blown plastic bag into a surprisingly convincing field of wind-swept ice; and Benoit Broisat’s reconstruction of a place he has never visited through the testimonies of its residents – the real made virtual. You can also see several of Sinta Werner’s cunningly illusory collages ahead of the solo show she – one of Germany’s best young artists – is due in the autumn.

View of 'Wait'

Franz Ackermann: Wait @ White Cube Mason’s Yard – Central

To 1 April:

A third White Cube show for the German painter, who sets his pictures in increasingly multi-faceted installations. So what’s it like? Download the 21st century geographies of big cities worldwide, mash up and turn into big near-abstracts with the cubism, dayglow and energy scales set to maximum. Throw in video, kinetics, barriers, detritus, cut-away effects and a pile of logs as the token – if dismembered – organic ingredient, and you start to get a feel for Franz’s distinctively pulsing world. Upstairs is the installation 'Wait', downstairs you are zapped mainly by stand-alone paintings. In a way this is also a chance, following on from Nettie Horn, to see more of Sinta Werner's work: as Ackermann's assistant, she gets to do quite a lot of the painting...

Still from 'Remnants of the Future'

Uriel Orlow: Remnants of the Future @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court

To 10 April (Wed to Sat 2-6 only):

French - wouldn't you know it - gallerist Laure Genillard presents the wide-ranging Swiss artist Uriel Orlow’s beautifully doomy first London solo show, convincingly grounded in a sense of how the future will never escape its pasts. We see a half hour video exploration of Mush, an Armenian housing project near the site of the 1915 genocides which was left unfinished when the Soviets withdrew and which Orlow sees as ‘ruins in reverse, oscillating between the not-yet and the no-longer’. It is shown to a soundtrack of dying stars, sounds which of course we detect long after the stars have vanished. There are also drawings made by tracing the mass-produced ceramic deathmasks which were a curious Russian tradition well into the photographic age, and stare as blankly as the unfinished houses’ windows; and photographs of an abandoned textile factory suggesting that society’s threads will not be pulled together any time soon. Enjoy…

Philipp Goldbach: Blackboards and Micrographs @ Annely Juda, 23 Dering St – Central
To 27 March:

Young German artist Philipp Goldbach's 'Micrographs’ are six foot high pencil transcriptions in necessarily tiny but just-about legible writing of travel accounts and philosophical texts. That is said to be the whole of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason you can see here, which must be well over a million words – I’m not sure I believe that, but it’s certainly a lot of labour, which makes the drawing, perhaps, its own commentary and an unusually profound and thorough one! As a complement, Goldbach also presents photographs of wiped chalkboards in various German University rooms in which such as Adorno and Heidegger taught: they become abstractions with the trace of writings and ideas past. And to complement Goldbach, Annely Juda are showing Edwina Leapman’s harmonious abstractions on the floor above – and many of them feature a dance of broken parallel lines which have the look of text which has blurred and so cannot be read.

Going Forward

Sam Porritt: Life is a Journey @ Brown, 42 Hoxton Square - Hoxton

To 20 March:

It takes courage to be simple, and young Zurich-based English artist Sam Porritt is courageous in his new show at Brown. 'Life is a Journey' spins off Paul Klee's 'taking a line for a walk' by following the adventures of a looped line within and between a whole gallery of drawings. The looped lines, which become art in the world, the literal subject of the drawings rather than a means of representation, have to navigate straight lines which appear set on blocking their progress - rather like conceptual boundaries constraining the urge towards figuration. What makes the drawings work, I think, are the groupings and titles, which provide a comic back-story to what we see: 'A Good Example of Bad Intentions', 'A Bad Example of Good Intentions', 'Bogus Progress', 'A Journey: The Highlights'.

Jim Morrison 1986

Graham Dolphin: Burn Away Fade Out @ Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Rd - Shoreditch

To 27 March:

Graham Dolphin has a niche: evocatively scratching very small writing into resonant sites - all the song lyrics onto a record by the Beatles, verses from the bible onto a poster of Kate Moss. I like that niche, but it's still good that his third show at Seventeen takes teenage fandom somewhere else by examining and remaking the myths which have themselves spun off from myths. Thus we see reproductions of alleged pop star suicide notes, influential but of doubtful veracity; a replica of the hyper-graffitied wooden bench that sits in Viretta Park, Seattle, overlooking the site of Kurt Cobain's suicide; and various states (hence the sub-title years), reconstructed from photographs, of the amateurish fan-made bust of Jim Morrison onto which visitors inscribed tributes at his grave in Paris - so reverentially that the bust was itself chipped away and stolen. It's a powerful mixture of sentiment, melodrama and recognition of the power of contemporary myth and the likely origins of myths past - points uderlined by their presentation at several removes from their origin.

From The Artist's Dream

Ian Breakwell: The Artist's Dream @ Anthony Reynolds, 60 Great Marlborough St - Central

To 1 April:

Ian Breakwell (1943-2005), who was the first artist to be shown by Anthony Reynolds back in 1985, is surely set to grow in reputation posthumously. A major retrospective, 'The Elusive State of Happiness' has just opened at the Quad in his home city, Derby, and this set of 13 works on paper from 1980 provides an ideal advert for it. One big plus for Breakwell is that, where not a few artists rather embarrass themselves if they add their own text to works, he could actually write very sharply - as in the diaries of quirky observation for which he is perhaps best-known. Here the counterpoint of collage, drawing and mock-self-deprecatory text (The artists is a reasonable man. He can account for his time. All his time is accountable. He is calm, cool, he keeps himself in check...) ought to trigger plans to travel to the midlands. Upstairs, incidentally, the gallery blows an equal fanfare for the late Leon Golub ahead of a survey in New York: I don't think that has quite the same justification, but you may disagree...

Still showing from previous lists: Stephen j Shanabrook to 13 March, Shudder to 14 March, Lara Viana to 20 March, Bernard Frize to 24 March, Frances Young to 28 March,Peeping Tom to 28 March, Crash: Homage to JG Ballard to 1 April, Dan Perfect to 7 April, David Hockney/Andy Holden to 10 April, Uriel Orlow to 10 April. gives full address and opening time details of most shows


I am looking forward to:

William Tucker @ Pangolin: 10.3 - 24.4

Edwin Burdis @ Civic Room: 10-21.3

Tony Cragg @ Lisson Gallery: 17.3 - 17.4

Idris Khan @ Victoria Miro: 17.3 - 24.4

John Smith @ Royal College of Art 19.3 - 13.4

Adam Thomas @ Space 19.3 - 17.4

Steve McQueen @ National Portrait Gallery: 20.3 - 18.7

Benjamin Beker @ Flowers East: 26.3 - 24.4

Nathaniel Rackowe @ Delfina Foundation 26.3 - 23.4

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov @ Sprovieri 30.3 - 30.5

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.