Thursday, 21 October 2010


Following on from the ‘Frieze Week’ there are plenty of big shows to see: both Tates, the Whitechapel, the National Gallery (with Canaletto and Clive Head both proving popular, the Hayward, Cezanne’s card players at the Courtald, James Turrell’s immersion experience at Gagosian (now wholly booked-out, however) and excellent shows at Victoria Miro and Parasol Unit. Then the expansions of Hauser & Wirth, Sadie Coles and Modern Art have been well-publicised, as has as good a White Cube double as I can recall: Christian Marclay in the west (with some all-night screenings), Mark Bradford in the east. All well and good, but there’s also plenty more… so much so that I’ve allowed myself a bumper fourteen picks – beginning with lots of wood, as coincidence would have it, even though there’s none at the Carpenter’s Workshop…

Untitled (Hammers)

David Adamo @ Ibid Projects, 35 Hoxton Square - Hoxton

To 18 Nov:

Ibid Projects, much the best Anglo-Lithuanian gallery in London, have moved from Vyner Street to three floors of a former textile factory on Hoxton Square. It looks so dated and time-worn it’s hard to believe it was commercially active just three years ago. The Berlin-based American David Adamo has exploited the peculiarities of the space to the maximum with sculptures which imply a preceding narrative of performance and – often – violence. An axe, for example, has attacked the oak-panelled wall, but suffered its own consequences: like many of Adamo’s wooden pieces, which include canes, hammers and a bow, it has been whittled away, with the shavings left on the floor. These whittled objects make for highly original sculptural forms which speak of pared-down essences and returns to origins, as well as suggesting preceding actions. They don’t speak through a press release, though: Adamo requested that there be none, and so may not want me to say any of that…

NEW EMPIRE (How Crooked Are Your Branches)

Andrew Curtis: Wild England @ PayneShurvell, 16 Hewett Street – Shoreditch

To 6 Nov:
Joanne Shurvell and James Payne’s new gallery is handily-placed just off Curtain Street, even if it’s in the sort of side-of-a-sidestreet location of which gallerists say ‘it has the advantage that those who come are genuinely seeking us’. Andrew Curtis is a 2009 RCA graduate who points up the surrealism in what is already around us by attempting to erase alien elements with black paint. This is applied, for example, to the Monkey Puzzle and Torbay Palm trees in blown-up photos of Curtis’ nondescript home zone of South London. The pseudo-eliminated trees stand out as painterly and dark intrusions, reminding us that they were imports in a Victorian age in which the subconscious worked overtime. Consistent with that, Curtis quotes JG Ballard: ‘to maintain this fabric of absolute normality requires powerful repressive forces'.


Suzanne Moxhay: Feralis @ Bearspace, 152 Deptford High Street – Deptford

To 27 Nov:

Julia Alvarez’ enterprising Deptford space gives a first solo show to Suzanne Moxhay, whose work I’ve admired since her RA degree show in 2007. Moxhay uses a combination of found images and modelling to construct what are effectively her own small scale designs for film sets. She photographs and digitally manipulates these so that the miniature merges with the epic and it is hard to tell real from illusory space. The resulting environments, as she says, ‘exist in a space between various intersecting fields of representation while embodying a reality of their own’. Moxhay’s earlier work has had a somewhat Ballardian air of the post-apocalyptic: now she goes ‘feral and dangerous’.

Atlas @ CABIN/ET, park just east of Waterson Street on the Hackney Road - Shoreditch

To 28 Nov (Sat & Sun only):

In a little cared-for but potentially lovable park along the Hackney Road stands a recycled shipping container now moving only towards becoming a cabin: the inside is kitted out with panels, shelves and seats made of Douglas fir. Over the past year, Tom Wolsely has been using it as a cabinet of curiosities for installations exploring the overlap of physical and psychological landscapes. His current project – in conjunction with the nearby ROOM gallery – shows a hundred photographs of the orientation maps displayed around housing estates. They combine documentary interest, a peculiar aesthetic of their own and a tension between helpful locator and organising controller. They also bring to mind the paintings in which Keith Coventry demonstrates the Malevich in such maps – which now seem so often to represent modernism gone askew.


rAndom International: The Behaviour of Objects @ Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery, 3 Albemarle St - Central

To 13 Nov:

The Carpenter’s Workshop operates at the boundary between art and design. But whichever side of that line you judge them to be, the London/Berlin based trio who work as rAndom International use cutting edge digital technology to interact with the viewer in impactful ways. You might have seen ‘Audience’, in which myriad mirrors turn to track your progress. Two more such works are shown here. Upstairs, ‘Swarm’ comprises three high-hung cubes of LEDs which react to sound and movement to mimic the effect – as the title suggests – of fireflies on the move. Downstairs, ‘Self-Portrait’ uses Ultraviolet technology to scroll through an artfully-blurred photographic image of one or two people standing before it, only for its purple to fade from view in the manner of a mirror of mortality.

Pubic Triangle

Keith Farquhar: More Nudes in Colour @ Studio Voltaire, 1a Nelsons Row – Clapham Common

To 4 Dec:

Studio Voltaire’s last show included Edward Kay’s bizarre though tender drawings of single breasts of glamour models. Now the gallery moves on to bums, though both shows are, of course, about issues of representation rather than titillation. Keith Farquhar’s installation of eighteen ‘flat pack sculptures’ is made from waist-to- knee photographs of models (all but one female, mostly rear views) to whom paint has been spontaneously applied, then the prints propped up as cardboard cut-outs on customised plinths. It’s sort of Yves Klein meets Canova meets Tom Wesselmann meets the spirit of Woodstock. And there are jokes: ‘Marble Arse’ imitates stone, the bottom in ‘Skin Condition’ looks to be covered in foundation, and ‘Pubic Triangle’ works as a negative: black paint covers everything except the conventionally hair-dark geometric zone… a curiously compelling multiple flip-flop between objectification and art, challenging us to work out which wins. Also on view: Dawn Mellors’ entertainingly astringent celebrity pastels taken from films.


GL Brierley: Matersatz @ Madder 139, 1 Vyner St – Cambridge Heath

To 28 Nov:

More sex I fear at Madder 139, but it emerges from blobby organic forms which can be read in various pareidoliac ways. So maybe it’s just me that thinks the biggest painting, ‘Covotelle’ shows a woman lifting up her skirt, ‘Baubola’ is distinctly phallic, and 'Milfalla' is a fleshy nude made of turds. Brierley herself links them interestingly to the theories of Julia Kristeva, who argues ‘that for a child to separate from the mother, he/she has to see her as abject, which in turn renders the maternal body a site of both repulsion and attraction’. The small paintings look as if they’re of jokey fetishes spot-lit in the dark – I was reminded of Philip Guston, Carroll Dunham and The Chapman Family Collection. And whatever they show, the build-up of ripples, drips, and cake decorator squirts of paint along with interference patterns, glazes and wooden inlays makes for a pungently realized mixture of the cute and the grotesque.

De Slag om de Twintigste Eeuw

René Daniëls @ Camden Arts Centre

To 28 Nov:

Would it be too macabre to point out that - following Angela de la Cruz - this is the second major show at Camden this year by an artist who has been drastically affected by a brain haemorrhage? That brought the first part of René Daniëls' career to an end in 1987, and the Dutch painter (born 1950) has not fully recovered, though he has recently begun to work again in a somewhat scratchy simulacrum of his previous style. The new drawings make up an interesting but subsidiary part of this retrospective, which confirms that Daniëls' paintings of the 1980's remain fresh, invigorating and influential. Dufy and Picabia come to mind, but many of them feel as if they are setting out future options for paintings rather than being the painting themselves. That sense of provisionality is reinforced by Daniëls' favourite motif: three sides of a room seen in perspective with paintings on the walls, such that when simplified it has the appearance of a bow tie. Another recurring image is a branching tree form which is annotated with eccentric phrases which could indicate options for investigation: 'Places where immaterials can be obtained' is one: a phrase which might stand in for much of the show.

Martin Gustavsson: In No Particular Order @ Maria Stenfors, unit 4, 21 Wren Street – Kings Cross

To 20 Nov:

Martin Gustavsson, a Swede long-resident in London, presents a grid of 3 up x 24 along = 72 canvasses hung at random, i.e. as gallerist Maria Stenfors happened to unpack them. That avoids the hierarchy and subjectivism of aesthetic choices – but what makes the body of work work as a body is how successfully the whole operates across multiple painting styles and art historical references. Most of the individual paintings look like fragments, including many which show limbs and also lots of apparent abstractions (though actually, Gustavsson told me, derived from figurative motifs). Links between colours, shapes, proportions and subject occur more often than one might expect, and where a painting looks to be in the least obvious place (egg dangling legs don’t hang down from the top row) it somehow soon seems right. Take your pick as to whether ‘In No Particular Order’ is one piece or 72, but you may well be drawn into spending the time you might expect on the latter.

Hugh Mendes: a poblacion

400 Women @ Hoxton Town Hall, City Road – Hoxton

12-28 Nov:

Not many shows can claim a cast of hundreds, but for Tasmyn Challenger's project no fewer than 200 artists will each contribute a 14” by 10” portrait (echoing the iconic retablo imagery of the Catholic Church) of one of the hundreds of women raped and murdered in or near the US border town of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico over the decade from 1993. The show forms part of widespread protests that the authorities have failed to investigate adequately, and the violence continues - the total drugs wars death toll was said to be 28,000 to date in reports on the recent massacre of 14 at a teenager's birthday party. The artists, based in England and Mexico, include Tracey Emin, Maggie Hambling, Gordon Cheung, Rachel Howard, Tereza Buskova and Hugh Mendes – who’s something of a shoe-in as he works with obituaries all the time. That said, whatever their individual merits, it’s likely to be mass effect of such a mournful gathering in the suitably subterranean gloom of Shoreditch Town Hall's basement which has the primary impact.


Robert Davies @ Hilary Crisp, 3 Newman Passage – Goodge Street

To 20 Nov:

Crisp London / Los Angeles has rebranded as the snappier – or, to be more hilarious, crisper – Hilary Crisp; and this is the last show across the distinctive three floors at Newman Passage before a move to Whitechapel. There are three ways of looking at Robert Davies’ work. First, as stunning lifesize graphite drawings of horses and domestic animals: they take up to four months each to draw, such is the level of detail, and I was particularly taken with Davies’ depiction of the original woolly coat. Second, as a series of portraits which attempt to extend the genre by imbuing the named animals with particular personalities. Third, as a disquisition on value: on the one hand the old fashioned sort produced by the artist’s labour, on the other the contrasting economic value of animals that are paid equal attention here. They range from Jessica, a partially blinded sheep deemed unfit for farm life, to Sea the Stars, such a successful racehorse he was retired to stud after one full season, and has a current fee of £75,000 per mare serviced.


Mat Collishaw: Creation Condemned @ Blain/Southern, 21 Dering Street – Central

To 17 Dec:

Mat Collishaw’s brand of Victorian-styled melodrama may not be to everyone’s taste, but he has shown as strongly as any of his YBA peers over the last eighteen months – at the Freud Museum, Foundling Museum, the BFI, and now in a more conventional gallery setting as the post-Haunch of Venison debut for its former directors Harry Blain and Graham Southern. In this two room show – creation up front, destruction behind, equal beauty ascribed to both – Collishaw, characteristically, combines provocative content with unusual materials and techniques. Along with his trademark projection of video behind a mirror, he back-lights translucent religious statuary using a photocopy scanner; mimics the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves with slowed-down footage and sound from a pole-dancing competition; and makes a troublesomely-convincing digital job of burning butterflies as well as – in the most striking work here – a time-lapsed orchid.

Suling Wang: The Kingfisher’s Last Dive (detail)

The mountains where the whales once lived @ UNION Gallery, 94 Teesdale St – Cambridge Heath

To 14 Nov:

Jari Lager’s UNION gallery used to have a cavernous space near Tate Modern, but its recessionary footprint is just one modest room near Cambridge Heath railway station. There’s only space for four big paintings, but this all-female group exhibition makes a virtue of that. The artists are a Korean (Eemyun Kang) who invited a Ukranian (Alisa Margolis), and a Taiwanese (Suling Wang) who was invited by our own Dolly Thompsett. Their work has a lot in common: landscapes segueing into abstraction, a mytho-historical sense of time, creation of ambiguous space through layering, all-over composition, and a seductively unnatural use of colour… Given all of which it’s surprising how distinctive are the four worlds of hidden depth which emerge - and enter into compelling and necessarily intimate dialogue.

Jilia Mariscal: Untitled

Time Capsules @ The Gallery Soho, 125 Charing Cross Rd - Tottenham Court

4-14 Nov:

The handily-placed 1st and 2nd floor space to let next to Foyle’s bookshop is becoming one to watch: following Liane Lang’s excellent ‘Monumental Misconceptions’ a few weeks ago, smart Spanish curator Lorena Munoz-Alonso presents four installations by her London-based compatriots. The works are touted as containers for time rather than for ideas, and we are promised shamanic ritual (anak&monoperro), time warp technology (David Ferrando Giraut), psychoanalytical conundrums (Julia Mariscal) and a combination of children’s tales and quantum physics, no less (Pablo Cadilla Jargstorf). There should be plentiful scope for fascinación here…

Images coutesy of the relevant artists and galleries

Friday, 15 October 2010


Ten new twists to nails by way of introduction:I'll give you the thumbs (both Jeff Koons) because they're at a tricky angle, but which other artists are celebrated on Ellie Harrison-Read's art week nails?

There are two kinds of stand at Art Fairs: those dedicated to a single artist and those showcasing a gallery’s stable as a whole. The former are best for discovering new voices, for which it is hard to get an adequate feel from one or two works. The latter, by showing a wide range, are more useful for picking up on the latest development in the work of a familiar artist. Here are ten such which I liked.

Donald Moffett: ‘Lot 072310 (the four holes)’ @ Marianne Boesky, New York

Following on from early works which included texts dealing with AIDS issues, American artist Donald Moffett has worked in the rare genre of politically engaged abstraction, integrating gay politics into paintings on drilled wooden panels with holes and zips in which reference both Fontana’s piercing of the canvas and fetishistic clothing. Marianne Boesky’s elegant booth was dedicated to a new suite of nine paintings which use more traditional materials to elegiac ends: they take off from Walt Whitman’s account of dressing the wounded in the Civil War, and what looks like some kind of fur turns out to be made from tenderly extruded oil paint.

Rivane Neuenschwander: Still from ‘Sunday’, 2010 @ Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo

A charming video from the Brazilian artist best known for her hypnotizing film of leafcutter ants transporting coloured confetti: she exploits the match between a parrot and the Brazilian football colours by combining the bird with the sound of a typically breathless football commentary in the exaggeratedly excited national style. That allows for no pauses, and it seems the parrot is eating the punctuation made redundant in that peculiar language game.

Gary Hume: ‘Paradise Painting One’, 2010 @ White Cube, London

Gary Hume has previous in applying his trademark household gloss style to birds, but they have been European and often babies. His latest paintings blow up near-abstract close-ups of a bird of paradise to a vast scale to maximize the colour and joy. Escapist? Maybe - though I didn't notice till later that a legs and vagina reading was also possible! -  and whether anti-recessional or not, tropical birds seem to be in fashion. One could add to Neuenschwander and Hume an enormous toucan photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans and a fictional Bird of Paradise by Ryan Gander, or could wander out to Paradise Row’s new space to see Shezad Dawood put parrots through hoops of neon.

Marcel Dzama: ‘Polytropos of many turns’, 2009 @ David Zwirmer, New York

The New York-based Canadian Marcel Dzama created his distinctive world of violence and dream in the 1990s through an addictive stream of watercolours, using root beer for the brown which has remained his most characteristic colour. Over the past decade he has expanded his characters’ reach through sculptures, dioramas, collage and film as well as paintings. Now we have a mannequin which rotates on its ceiling fan engine base, complete with costume, mask and gun. This spinning woman – one of the Revolution Dancers who do battle with ghost soldiers in Dzamaland - conflates the military and the balletic to mysterious effect.

Callum Innes: ‘Untitled No. 71’, 2010 @ Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh

The Scottish artist Callum Innes has established a practice which is as much about unpainting as about painting. He has recently moved from a characteristic colour format which bisects the canvas and then halves one of halves by bleeding away the colour with turpentine, to one of two halves. That makes the removal less obvious – in fact, the story of the paintings is only fully visible from the side. Many layers of gesso are applied before a layer of black. That black is washed away from one half to expose the white beneath, and the other half is painted a different colour: white in the example shown, but the Ingelby Gallery also has black, the Kerlin Gallery green and the Frith Street Gallery purple. At the central boundary of the two halves a black borderline remains.

Gillian Wearing: ‘Me as Warhol in Drag with Scar’, 2010 @ Maureen Paley, London

It’s not new for Wearing to show herself wearing the cast of another person in which it’s only her deep brown eyes which are ‘really her’: such photos have included herself as her father and brother. But this move into celebrity territory, and the need for a body cast showing ‘her’ flesh, are new. The self-portrait isn’t just in the eyes, but in the tribute to her influences of Warhol and behind him, Marcel Duchamp, whom Warhol was imitating in turn by dressing in drag in the top half of this image. The lower half is based on Richard Avedon’s famous shot of Warhol revealing his scars following Valerie Solanas’ attack in 1968.

Thomas Bayrle: ‘Windscreen Wiper: Pray for Us’, 2010 @ Barbara Weiss, Berlin.

Thomas Bayrle (born Berlin, 1937) has previously used the elements here - cars, engines and the rosary. He has often used traffic and roads as stand-ins for the overall systems which control us, and has drawn parallels between the church and industrialisation as the historical drivers behind modernity. That all plays into this new kinetic combination, in which one could just make out the German mutter of ‘Bitt für Uns’ beyond the Fair’s background hum as the windshield blades, denied their window, made a vain effort to clean… the wall, the fair, the sins of its attendees, the world of art, the world?

Allora & Calzadilla: ‘Petrified Petrol Pump No. 1’, 2010 @ Gladstone Gallery, Brussels

The imaginative US-Cuban partnership of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla has operated since 1995. They were right on the topical money with this abandoned petrol pump which appears to have reversed the process of oil extraction in turning back to a fossil-filled limestone. Perhaps they’re already envisaging the time when the world has moved on from oil – though there’s no telling whether this tableau is from a bright new carbon-free future which makes such pumps redundant, or an apocalyptic end of times which has rendered them customerless.

Francis Upritchard: ‘Snake Drawers’, 2010, with the figure ‘Verity'

New Zealand’s representative at last year’s Venice Biennale has made an ongoing series of figures with a hand-drawn wobbliness in hippyish tie-died hues which seem to combine an unidentifiable number of ethnographic references. For her recent show at the Vienna Secession, Upritchard added a harlequin patterning inspired by its Gustav Klimt frieze and built a matching set of hand-painted oak drawers on which the figure stands. It contains various arty surprises, as does the whole of Kate MacGarry’s stand, much of which is secreted inside a larger cabinet designed by Martin Gamper.

Richard Prince: @ Almine Rech, Paris

Whether you love or loathe the way Richard Prince hammers on at the sign and the signified through American blue collar culture, there’s no doubting the success of his joke and nurse ‘brands’. Perhaps it was only a matter of time, then, before he combined the two by putting a (suitably medical) joke on top of a gridded background of paperback covers showing nurses with overpainted surgical masks – but this was the first time I’d seen him do it. Curiously enough, Gagosian had a comparable gambit from Damien Hirst: butterflies applied to spin paintings (dating from 2007, but little-seen). I found myself liking both these transparently calculating doubling ups more than I felt I ought.

Images courtesy of the relevant galleries

Thursday, 7 October 2010


How hard can it be, if we’re all related to each other at three removes, to find a chain of connections between some interesting current shows? ‘Not so very hard’ is the answer…

Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries from the Sistine Chapel

To 17 October:

I won’t argue if you claim that the V & A’s room of Raphael cartoons is in the normal run of things London’s outstanding room of art, and for a while it is supplemented – at no charge – by a parallel presentation of the tapestries from the Vatican for which they were made. There are also related prints and some sublime preparatory studies, including an image taken by pressing wet paper onto an ink drawing to test out the image reversal of the woven version. But the tapestries have faded worse than the cartoons and the other points of difference, though of interest, are not in their favour – so it may be just as good to go after this show, when it will be less crowded and you can also see the V & A’s promising-looking exhibition of camera-less photography (from 13 October). Bonus of sorts: the Retable of St George, which takes one of the room’s end walls, shows a range of torture scenes which make contemporary art’s excesses seem pretty tame.

Enrico Castellani: Superficie Argento, 1973

The Gallant Apparel: Italian Art and the Modern @ Robilant + Voena, Ist Floor, 38 Dover St – Central

To 27 Oct (not weekends):

Exhibitions in the classically-styled gallery of Italian dealers Edmondo Di Robilant and Marco Voena have usually been linked to old master sales or the bombastic worlds of Lachapelle and Schnabel, but this is an exemplary survey of the Italian scene 550 years on from Raphael’s heyday. The 1950’s development of Fontana’s holes, then later slashes, as means of puncturing the illusionistic plane is well-demonstrated. There’s an exceptionally lustrous nail-protrusion picture by Castellani, a Fibonacci progression series by Merz which has a witty underlying logic, a couple of De Dominicis’ enigmatic post-conceptually silent faces, and interesting work by others including the less familiar Remo Bianco, Agostino Bonalumi, Dadamaino and Paolo Scheggi.

Paola Pivi: Sorry, I Can't Tell You @ Carlson, 2nd floor, 6 Heddon St – Central

To 31 Oct:

Moving on to a current Italian, Alaskan-based Paola Pivi’s projects are wide-ranging: unlikely photographs of animals, such as ostriches on a boat and an alligator clotted by cream; bead sculptures; a 1-1 scale photographic ‘map’ of the small island she once lived on; recordings of animal sounds; a thousand people screaming in unison; and a fighter plane shown as a sculpture (ten years, incidentally, before Fiona Banner’s current display of fighter jets at Tate Britain). All the same, I was surprised by the two rooms of Massimo de Carlo’s newly-modified but still modest space: in the first just one big black and white and somewhat Mapplethorpian photograph of a man masturbating; in the next five big photographs of ten men engaging in a hokey cokey chain of anal connection, as if to say that anonymous group sex is pretty much masturbation with other bodies. What I like is the humour plus how – paradoxically – it’s the facial expressions of the orgiasts, and how they vary between shots, which draws you in: it’s a social business after all.

Lovers, 1968

Rasheed Araeen: Before and After Minimalism 1959-1974

To Oct 23:

Carlson are in the former Gagosian offices: the Asian-themed Aicon Gallery occupies the former Gagosian gallery space downstairs. But the connection with Pivi is that the among the elegant architecturally-inspired modular minimalism of 1960’s Caro enthusiast Rasheed Araeen is the two-part wood construction ‘Lovers’, which is designed to allow the viewer to arrange it in various different positions. Araeen, who moved to London after training as a civil engineer in Karachi, riffs further on seriality, kineticism and interactivity in the rest of this appealing partial retrospective. It includes the confidently-named ‘Sculpture No 1’ from 1965: four I-beams painted the colour of rust, which leads me to…

Martin Creed: Work No. 700 @ Southwood Garden, St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly


Away from the glitz of the opening of Hauser & Wirth's big new gallery is this one piece show. For his Work No 700 Martin Creed has stacked three progressively slimmer 12 metre steel I-beams on top of each other in the sculpture garden behind Hauser & Wirth’s Piccadilly space. He has applied such incremental ordering to many things from cardboard boxes and cacti to chairs and dogs. The expected rigour and urge to perfection of classic minimalism rubs up against the wear, tear and imperfections of the real world, here represented by a satisfying degree of rust.

Slaves By Choice II

Dark Nature @ Poppy Sebire, All Hallows Hall, 6 Copperfield St – Southwark

To 30 Oct:

The previously peripatetic Poppy Sebire has a permanent location in an airy former church hall near the Jerwood Space from this, her fourth show, onwards. Malmo-based gallery artist James Aldridge has curated an Anglo-US-Scandinavian group examination of the darker aspects of humanity as filtered through natural processes. I like the circle of double decay with hidden black metal darkness orchestrated by the Swedish artist Roger Andersson. What looks at first like a set of delicate sepia drawings of plants, together with a small and apparently unrelated wooden statue, turns out to be images mad with the rust cleaned from the old tools which Andersson collected in order to carve the statue. A very close examination of the drawings also reveals images insinuated into the detail, such as the goat’s head in the sunflower illustrated above. Beautifully convoluted crepuscularity.

Cosmos 3 (detail)

Sungfeel Yun: Apollonian / Dionysian @ Sumarria Lunn, Art Work Space, The Hempel, 31-35 Craven Hill Gardens – Paddington

To 7 Nov:

There’s more iron oxide at the latest location of the still-peripatetic enterprise of Vishal Sumarria and Will Lunn. Korean artist Sungfeel Yun operates at the boundary of at and science by returning to the classroom favourite of iron filings with surprisingly persuasive results. He embeds the filings in resin, then uses magnets from the back of the canvas to drag them into swirling fluxes which have a painterly feel front-on and a more sculptural presence from some angles. He then submits selected areas to rusting, so adding to the contrast of elements: solar images using earthy materials, positive and negative forces, metallic strength in a delicate form…

Still from 'Baigneurs 2'

Elina Brotherus @ The Wapping Project Bankside 65a Hopton St – Southwark

To 23 Oct:

Rust needs moisture, and there’s plenty of that in this extensive retrospective of the Finish film-maker and photographer Elina Brotherus. It concentrates on film, with no fewer than 11 video works on show covering 1998-2010, two of them triptychs - of bathers in natural landscapes and of rained-on vistas – and another the four part Model Studies (2005), which effectively uses the video camera to make life class drawings. Brotherus has often used herself as the model, including in a hundred photo sequence, recently seen at the Bloomberg Space, which documented the effects of her medication. The newest film here combines that strand with the life class through a film of two painters for whom she is the model – except, of course, that they are the primary models, the actors in her video. Brotherus is also particularly good at using the family, and sneaks more humour into her work than may sound likely. Recommended as a user-friendly recovery experience after the crowded Gauguin headline-grabber next door.

Suicide Ultimately

Josephine King: Life So Far @ Riflemaker, 7 Beak St – Soho

To 30 Oct:

It’s self-portraits all the way in this full-on psychological self-examination by Josephine King, an Anglo-Dutch artist and ceramicist who has lived a turbulent life in several countries. King was diagnosed with bi-polar mania in 1999, and has made eighty ink paintings in the last five years which depict the traumas she could then see it had caused her since 1986. They combine a text border (eg ‘I am locked inside a body alien to me’) with frontal full-length versions of her self. The colour is all high impact (‘colour is my inner world’, says King) but with a definite contrast between plausibly vivid clothing and fauvishly improbable flesh. They’re a bit too knowing to be described as naive, but give off a strong outsider-style charge: Frida Kahlo comes to mind.

Giving Hand

Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Quetzalcoatl @ Diemar/Noble Photography, 66/67 Wells St – Fitzrovia

To 6 Nov:

Self-Portraits are rare in the work of the great Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002), but there is one in this show – supported by the Mexican Embassy to mark 200 years of independence and also coinciding with the luxurious new Thames & Hudson book 'Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Photopoetry'. The selection as a whole is varied, ranging from a 1930’s poultry shop to deer made from bread, from a nude in vegetation to a skeletal hand, from a plantain to feet in a puddle, all tinged with an apparently effortless surrealism. Steering clear of Bravo’s most-reproduced images, this show make a fresh case for his distinctive combination of tradition and innovation.


Frieze itself aside, here's my choice of ten things to do this coming busy week in London 11-17 October:

Liverpool’s Ceri Hand gallery present a pop-up show with linked events at 80 Duke Street, Mayfair – Mon onwards

New Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission by Ai Weiwei – from Tues

Sadie Coles presents new 70 minute William Sasnal film at Prince Charles Cinema – Tues-Fri

Any number of openings in Fitzrovia and elsewhere, including James Turrell at Gagosian Brittania St and Marina Abramovich across both Lisson galleries – Tues evening

Helen Carmel Benigson performance at ROLLO Contemporary – Tues evening

‘The Future Can Wait’ survey show at Hoxton Town Hall – Wed-Sun

Hauser & Wirth open their vast new space with Louise Bourgeois – Thurs evening

New - and free – 20-gallery ‘Sunday’ fair in Ambica P3 – Thurs-Sun

New Christian Marclay video ‘The Clock’ opens at White Cube West – Thurs evening

Damian Ortega makes sculptures daily at the Barbican Curve – Fri onwards

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.