Sunday, 29 May 2011


Gary Webb at the Zabludowicz Collection

The first sculpture-only show at the Saatchi Gallery’s Chelsea incarnation heads up a strong month for sculpture generally and wide-ranging surveys of the form in particular: there’s still time (to 12 June) to see the Zabludowicz Collection’s extensive presentation by a 22-strong mixture of emerging, mid career and veteran artists – all made in the last five years, which is much more logical connector than selecting by the age of the contributors; the Pangolin Gallery sees 15 often-witty ‘Women Make Sculpture’; and plenty of the hundred-odd works by 35 artists in ‘Young London’ at V22’s 50,000 foot ex-Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey are in 3D. My next half dozen choices add to the sculpture-fest, and that without bringing in the recent high profile openings of Ai Wei Wei, Tracey Emin, Fred Sandbach, John Chamberlain, Richard Long and Giuseppe Penone; nor Dan Colen at Carlson, Bouke de Vries at Vegas, Carl Plackman at Hales and Marie Lund at Laura Barlett, which I also like…

Folkert de Jong: The Dance

The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture @ the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Rd – Sloan Square

To 16 Oct:

In this best use yet of the Saatchi’s Chelsea space, many of the 14 galleries contain just a few high impact sculptures by one artist. One recurring theme is how variously the human form can be re-imagined: provisional in Thomas Houseago, beyond cliché in Rebecca Warren, metamorphic in David Altmejd and, best of all perhaps, all the above in Dutch sculptor Folkert de Jong’s sardonic dance of seventeenth century trader types on the ghosts of the colonial. The low countries do well, in fact – there are as many artists working in Ghent as in London – in a geographically and conceptually wide-ranging show in which Dirk Skreber, Kris Martin, Sterling Ruby and Bjorn Dahlem are also shown to particular advantage. I wasn't too worried by the little irony of titling: that the work in 'The Shape of Things to Come' is typically rather older than that in the Zabludowicz's 'The Shape We're In'.

Upside Down Cloak from the Buhuu Suite

Nicole Wermers: Buhuu Suite @ Herald St, 2 Herald St – Bethnal Green

To 28 June:

HERALD ST PRESS RELEASES USE CAPITALS ONLY , which can be wearying, but then this is a capital show: while you might look for an artist you like to take one interesting new direction, London-based German Nicole Wermers adds two fresh modes to her elegant sculptural plays on the thresholds between spaces and between art and design. First, the room-filling set of designed and found objects linked - as if against theft as well as by thematic intent - by chains. Second, her first straight (rather than collaged) photographs, reflecting on Rodin’s house and its ghosts (‘Buhuu’ is German onomatopoeia for their sounds) in cunningly-shaped clip-frames which become part of the work.

Ground floor view

Jodie Carey: Somewhere, Nowhere @ The Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park

To 19 June:

It’s a good time of year to stroll through Battersea Park to the unique four floor gallery which has – happily – survived a recent well-publicised grant reduction. Here Jodie Carey (no relation though she shares my maiden name!) uses a pared-back aesthetic to tease a fragile beauty from base materials, affirming life at the same time as evoking its vulnerability and potential addictions. Cumulatively, her installations - wallpaper patterns of cigarette ash; a marbled and surprisingly sparkly carpet of ground blood and dust; cast plaster slabs which incorporate the chance effects of coffee and lace - also bring a bodily presence to the architecture.

Exhaust (24 hours of exhaled air within foil balloons)

David Rickard: Time + Trace @ Sumarria Lunn Gallery, 36 South Molton Lane – Central (nb: South Moulton Lane not the parallel trendy Street)

9 June - 1 July:

This is the second show at young gallerists Will Lunn and Vishall Sumarria’s first permanent space after various pop-up appearances. In it, London-based New Zealander David Rickard embraces the complementary roles of order and chance by setting up tightly structured processes within which events are allowed to unfold and create their own aesthetic. Rickard’s inventive combinations of imagination and rigour, experiment and pratfall include the mapping of pigeon poop, glass differentially broken by being dropped from varying heights, shelving units loaded to collapse, catching a whole day's breath and dice-driven sculptures made out of dice.

Installation view

Mauro Bonacina: London.England.12.05.2011.18:00 @ Maria Stenfors, Unit 4, 21 Wren St - King Cross

To 25 June:
The towering physical presence of Italian artist Mauro Bonacina dominates this beautifully interlinked show - whether or not you saw the opening night’s eponymous performance, in which he made the gallery his canvas by spraying an impressively high horizon line right round it. The artist’s voice greets you outside the gallery and his actions are also present in photos which make his star jumps look like implausible attempts at flight; a surprisingly neat and effective painting made from his large footprints; the implausibly complete filling of a supermarket trolley with geometrically-shaped goods (a reminder, apparently, of the time Bonacina won a supermarket dash only to find his planning sabotaged on the day by the shop closing off the drink and electrical zones!).

Fairy steering butterfly from 'The Taming' at Danielle Arnaud

Tessa Farmer: ‘Nymphidia’ @ Danielle Arnaud, 123 Kennington Rd – Lambeth North & ‘Control Over Nature’ (with Amon Tobin) @ The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Rd – Euston

To 5 June (Crypt) / 26 June (Arnaud): /

Pangolin has work by Polly Morgan, one of the two increasingly well-regarded women who work with taxidermy. And Danielle Arnaud’s elegant house-as-gallery and the gothic underspace opposite Euston station both feature the bizarre insect-freezing, small-animal-stuffing sculptural tableaux of the other: Tessa Farmer. She sends her evil fairies – like fly-sized skeletons with wings – into battle with their enemies, the hornets, with hedgehog spines as spears, flying skullships as military transport and mosquito slaves as footsoldiers… The Crypt combines theatrical displays with Amon Tobin’s soundscape, and both venues also feature Farmer’s hybrid creatures in animated film action: the compellingly weird future of Victorian occult.

I Don't Fancy You, Lee

Lee Edwards: How to disappear completely @ DomoBaal, 3 John St – Clerkenwell

To 11 June:

Kid A in this case is young artist Lee Edwards, who’s just as effective as Farmer at drawing the viewer into the odd and diminutive in London’s other leading house-as-gallery. He uses the knots on found pieces of wood as a starting point for portraits of eleven women for whom he has longed. These succeed both as sensitively-painted versions of his photographic sources,enhanced by how they interact with the grain and rings; and as a narrative of nostalgia likely to echo the viewer’s own experiences, and triggered by such titles as ‘I Was Too Shy’, ‘My Aunt’s Friend’, ‘We Kissed in the Rain’ and the direct‘I Don’t Fancy You, Lee’, which is painted on a conker.

Standing Nude with Orange Stockings, 1914

Egon Schiele: Women @ Richard Nagy Ltd, 22 Old Bond St - Central

To 30 June:

It doesn’t sound the greatest premise: a private dealer opens a gallery, hidden away on the second floor, to show work he’s borrowed back from past clients. But Richard Nagy has handled much of the best of Egon Schiele (1890-1918), and this first part of a thematic series is no arbitrary accumulation: 45 works on paper cut to the quick of Schiele’s unsettlingly intense focus on women. Most are nervy and erotically driven; though his last phase, between the military service which interrupted his production and the flu which killed him, can take a serener path. And if you like Tracey, then you’ll love Egon.

The Back that Used to be the Front

George Shaw: The Sly And Unseen Day @ South London Gallery,65-67 Peckham Rd – Camberwell / Peckham Rye

To 1 July:

Living in Devon hasn’t yet deflected George Shaw from his fifteen year project of humbrol enamel paintings triggered by his childhood suburbscape, the Tile Hill Estate in Coventry. This 25-strong retrospective therefrom, already well-received at its bigger Baltic showing, now comes with the imprimatur of the Turner Prize shortlist. Evocatively obsessive or too static and repetititious? I go the first way, which this selection assists in that only a small minority show the views of houses and garages which probably constitute most people’s mental image of Shaw’s work. And it’s cunningly paired with Simon and Tom Bloor’s alternative take on the settings of childhood. Odd, though, to hear people hail Shaw's shortlisting as a return of painting, when that's so subsidary to his conceptual end.

Artist's Proof

Tala Madani: Manual Man @ Pilar Corrias, 54 Eastcastle St – Fitzrovia

To 18.6:

Even were I not already a follower of internationally-based Iranian painter Tala Madani’s energetic pastiches of stereotypes, it would be hard not to be curious about a show of paintings with titles such as ‘Chinballs with Flag’, ‘Strangulation by Stained Glass’, and ‘Cupid Piss with Goggles’. In Ancient Iran, claims the press release, to dream of urine is a sign that great wealth and power will follow... meanwhile, Madani’s zesty militaristic characters keep us guessing about what is real at some level, and what is entirely staged. 'Artist's Proof', though, is from a new stream which sees animated letters poke fun at various targets.

Picture credits: relevant artists + galleries + Stephen White (Zabludowicz), Matthew Booth (Pumphouse), Andy Keate (DomoBaal) + Manuel Vason (Sumarria Lunn)

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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.