Thursday, 28 July 2011


'Anthology' at CHARLIE SMITH London, 336 Old St, 5-20 Aug

I have to declare an interest in the juried prize show 'Anthology', which opens on the evening of Thursday 4 August (when the winner will be announced) and runs to 20 August: I’m one of the five judges behind the  choice of ten artists. There were 650 applicants, and the spread of good work was such that 43 entrants were in the top ten of at least one judge! To illustrate that depth, I’ve chosen to highlight:

• five artists who are in the exhibited ten (the others are Jake Clark, Emma Critchley, Harold de Bree, Enzo Marra and Michelle Sank); and

• five artists who didn’t make the show, but whose work I particularly liked.

That’s fifteen artists, and I could happily have included an alternative fifteen in the show, say Mara Bodis-Wollner,, Simona Brinkmann, Ros Hansen, Marguerite Horner, Hannah Hur, Rinaldo Hopf, Colin McMaster, Sarah Pager, Pascale Rousson, Alli Sharma, Kate Vrijmoet, Imogen Welch, Simon Willems, Miranda Whall and Willem Weisman.


 Andy Harper

Andy Harper is known for his hyper-detailed renderings of real and imagined plant life in an old-masterly oil palette with greens and browns dominant. If their somewhat claustrophobic spaces suggest analogies between the vegetable world and our own interior physical workings, then this recent series sees Harper move into more mental territory. The intricate tantrically-tinged patterns evoke the Marsh Chapel Experiment run under the supervision of Timothy Leary. That purported to show that psychedelic drugs increase our propensity to experience religious feelings - and these paintings do indeed take Harper’s practice to another level.

Beauty Is in the Eyes of the Collective
 Steve Morgana

There’s something to be said for a little interactive fun in a show, and up-and-coming Australian Steve Morgana, who has worked with a physicist, could provide that. For example ‘Co-operative Kaleidoscope (You’re a Star!)’ needs two viewers to stand at either end before either can see the star patterning produced, and his ‘Lamps’ react to the spectator’s movements to vary their ‘auroral chromatic’. They’re more than ingenious fun, too, with points to make about social collaboration, the subjectivity of perception and the impact we have on our surroundings.


Suncatcher II
Tom Ormond

The young British painter Tom Ormond makes paintings inspired by utopian architectural schemes, building up multiple abstract elements as if they might tell us how to construct a future. He has in the past based the overall shapes on nuclear explosions, but here he more optimistically declares his inspiration to be the light by means of which we see those structures, which he calls ‘a symbol for creative optimism and enthusiasm’.

Elevator II
Alex Hudson

The young British painter Alex Hudson  uses a naggingly nostalgic near-monochrome technique to conflate timescales and set up the potential to reach spaces beyond the scene depicted. In ‘Elevator II’, for example, we see a romantically-depicted landscape in which a geometric white form makes a modernist incursion. Their combination suggests such questions as: what means of escape are possible from received approaches?  What would the past have imagined of the future compared with what we know of it as the present? And what does that tell us about our own futures?

Suzanne Moxhay

Suzanne Moxhay’s photographs of elaborate three dimensional collages make apocalyptic, futuristic landscapes out of the everyday nostalgia of old magazines such as the National Geographic. The outcome is a manipulated reality in which the conjunction of real and illusory space is matched by the combination of real and imagined time. What lures the viewer in is the contrast, referencing its parallel in film sets, between the banality of the set-ups and the convincing deceptions to which they gives rise.


Garter Order
Christina Niederberger

London-based Swiss painter Christina Niederberger re-imagines and yet contradicts such modernist standbys such as grids, circles and Klein’s anthropometries by using lace, net curtains, doilies or soft toys as the stencil starting points for oil, acrylic and spray paint. Sometimes (as in the submitted ‘Trophy’) she combs fake fur stretched over the canvas to make it look like paint, so achieving an even more direct collision between high art and kitsch.  The results are intriguingly ambiguous. Are they realist depictions of the constituent elements, or abstractions? Are they tributes or critiques? Are they stupid enough to be  clever, or is it the other way round?

I Felt the Plastic Bag Begin to Give Way
Stuart Hartley

Stuart Hartley’s plywood sculptures have the appearance of paintings which have been interrupted by events. They call to mind both the molecular activity which underlies the surface stability of ordinary objects; and those random irruptions which flavour our everyday routines – as signalled by such witty titles as ‘One Foot the Bath and the Doorbell Rang ‘. The result is a lively sense of the works representing their own creation, just as they establish an attractive aesthetic based on setting off inner and outer elements and natural and artificial colours.

Dieter Mammel

Dieter Mammel’s characteristic medium is the unusual one of monochrome ink and watercolor on ungrounded canvas, which he deploys with a brilliant use of semi-accidental effects. In his ‘Under Deep Water’ cycle he builds that directly into his conceptual schema by showing people – and we’re 60% water, after all – submerged in the element from which they seem to be doubly made. Mammel, in his own words, ‘plunges into the flow of colour’ to emerge with these blueberry gestures towards a reality from which the bravura technique keeps us at one remove.

Vom Shit Dog 6
Jock Mooney

Planet Mooney is crazy in a good way: it’s hard not to smile at the relish with which  high and low are combined in vivid hand-sculpted tableaux of silly jokes, religious icons, bodily expulsions, floral beauty and schoolboy magic… There’s an acceptance of manifold human drives for their own sakes which achieves a rambunctious register peculiar to Mooney.  Maybe we’re all mad at some level, he seems to suggest, in which case why should we worry? 

Ossian Ward on Tracey Emin at White Cube, from the series Art Review Graphs
EA Byrne

If only, an artist might dream, art could pre-empt its own reception! That’s the neat trick EA Byrne implies in using the phrases from art reviews to form graph-like abstractions. In so doing she simultaneously pays tribute to the value created by critical evaluation while playfully undermining its claims to objectivity through the absurd pretence that the opinions cited are amenable to a scientific system of quantification. This quiet work seemed to me the most interesting exploration of the on-trend interface between art and language.


July into August is traditionally time the time of summer group shows, and there are some good ones around: at Frith Street, Poppy Sebire, the Zabludowicz Collection, Calvert22, Ancient & Modern, Galleri8, Salon Vert, Simon Lee, Asylum, Fold and Seventeen, for example, or the Hungarian photography at the RA and the festival of animation at the Barbican – to stretch the concept a little. But I’ve concentrated mostly on ‘dual shows’: one artist in more than one gallery, or the two-person exhibition which allows for contrast while showing a substantial amount of each artist’s work. Despite looming summer breaks, all these shows run well into August, at least.

Jake or Dinos Chapman @ White Cube East & West

To 17 Sept:

‘Sensational’ may be too tired a word for the lovable(?) rogues’ vast two gallery survey of their tendencies, but it feels apt. Children’s book drawings, cardboard sculptures, defaced Goyas, re-faced mannequins, altered old paintings, it’s all here in bulk plus the new and memorable 30-strong troop of jet black Nazi art enthusiasts at Mason’s Yard and accretions of bronze cotton buds (don’t use them at home!) at Hoxton Square . The publicity emphasizes that the brothers worked separately, but de-collaboration doesn’t seem to have changed their style. They still ought to be shortlisted as one artist for next year’s Turner Prize, along perhaps with Mike Nelson, Tacita Dean and Tracey Emin to guarantee that it goes to one of the non-winners who’ve done more than most of the winners to set the direction of British art in the last twenty years...

Nicolas Poussin: Apollo and the Muses on Parnassus

Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters @ Dulwich Picture Gallery

To Sept 25:

The relationship between Poussin and Twombly feels somewhat overcooked here, no matter that they both arrived in Rome at 30 with a love of myth and literature. That’s more than offset, though, by the sheer pleasure of so much Poussin alongside the now-memorial selection of Twombly. Plus there are three bonuses: five of Poussin’s great series of ‘Sacrements’ shown separately, Tacita Dean’s latest sensitive portrait of a soon-to-die old man of the arts (Mario Merz, Michael Hamburger and Merce Cunningham having preceded this film of Twombly), and of the course the permanent collection from dress-sweep of Gainborough to milk-spray of Rubens.

Giuseppe Penone: Skin of Graphite

Richard Long & Giusepe Penone @ Haunch of Venison

To 20 Aug 2011:

This second heavyweight pairing of the summer is the last in Haunch of Venison’s huge temporary home before they move back to the yard which gave the gallery its name. On one side Richard Long, 72, who trains by walking everywhere; on the other, the Italian arte povera star Giuseppe Penone, 64, in his most extensive London showing yet. It includes the largest-scale set of his ‘Skin of Graphite’ drawings that I’ve ever seen, turning the body's surface into topography, along with a representative selection of sculptures -   mapping trees from inside and out and musing beautifully on man and nature.

Paul Etienne Lincoln: installation view of 'Aurelian Labyrinth'

Tue Greenfort: Where the People Will Go & Paul Etienne Lincoln: An Aurelian Labyrinth and Other Explications @ the South London Gallery, 65 Peckham Rd – Peckham

To 11 Sept (Greenfort) / 18 Sept (Lincoln): http//
Environmentally-inclined Dane Tue Greenfort’s soft parquetry, mushroom growths, wood decay demo and critique of the structure of London local government through its binbags are well worth pondering. But the upstairs space finds New York based Briton Lincoln in super-charged imaginative form which put me in mind of Raymond Rousell: detailed descriptions, drawings and maquettes relating to some compellingly ludicrous installation proposals. The titular piece, for example, envisages that a Bach score be fed into the mechanics of an irrigation system to produce maze patterns on a field of genetically modified pansies, chosen – need you ask? - for their petals’ similarity to the wings of the Camberwell Beauty butterfly.

Still from 'Golden Underground'

Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom & Gabriel Hartley: Peacock Trousers @ Josh Lilley Gallery, 44-46 Riding House St – Fitzrovia

To 10 Aug:

There’s a certain perverse pleasure to be had from Gabriel Hartley’s fey-monumental sculptural forms which turn out to have been built from rolls of paper, but for me the main attraction here is the sharp and amiable wit of the impressively named Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom, who presents the surreal afterlife of implied performances. ‘Peacock’ conjures multiple resonances from a succession of bulbs lit by variously-coloured light: from snooker to still life to eggs to interrogation to pondering the light in or out of a painting; and the jaunty paintbrush-plays-a-piano video loop ‘Golden Underground’ is somehow made more entertaining by the absence of an image for most of the time.

My Sun's Holiday

Patrick Hughes at Flowers & Flowers East

To 3 Sept:

You may think you've seen enough of Patrick Hughes’ crowd-pleasing reverse perspective paintings, which appear to move as you do, and of which there are plenty of new examples in the Cork Street half of this show. Still, it's refreshing to be reminded of the variety of witty ideas which Hughes has come up with over the years in the extensive retrospective at Flowers East: the painting as suitcase, for example, the sun at rest, the sexual jigsaw, the self-masturbating penis, the rainbow hung on the moon. And actually the reverse perspectives do move on, recently playing with internal repetition and infinite regress. The painting may be  more functional rather than inspired, that’s also an avoidance of distraction that fits in with Hughes’ obvious affinity with Magritte.

Mat Collishaw in Ron Arad's 'Curtain Call' @ the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Rd - Camden

9-29 Aug:

This Bloomberg Summer exhibition isn't strictly dual, but centeres around Ron Arad’s 5,600 suspended silicon rods serving as a novel screen in the round (which you can view from inside or outside) for the 15 projectors used for Mat Collishaw’s new video work 'Sordid Earth'. That will depict flowers in a panoramic landsape over the course of a day: the flowers will blossom and contract digitally added infections - which lead to sores, pustules, decay and death in typically melodramatic Collishaw style.  Ori Gersht, David Shrigley and Christain Marclay are among those who will also feature in the wide-ranging programme.

Jess Flood-Paddock: Fantastic Voyage @ Carl Freedman, 44a Charlotte Rd - Hoxton

To 13 Aug:

Young sculptor Jess Flood-Paddock is highly visible at the moment: anthropomorphic versions of Japanese snacks at Wilkinson; a Del Boy car in this year’s Bold Tendencies, the entertaining summer sculpture survey in Peckham Rye’s multistorey car park; and her own show at Carl Freedman. ‘Fantastic Voyage’ sets a tent-sized hip-hop-trendy New Era 50 baseball cap with a brain design on it against a backdrop of membranous tie-dyed pink fabric. That hints at being inside a brain, too, perhaps one covetous of the latest consumer fashion. Comical, and yet enough to spark matters in your own head.

Michelle Sank: Bye Bye Baby III
Anthology @ CHARLIE SMITH London, 336 Old St - Hoxton
5-20 Aug:

I have to declare an interest here in that I was one of the five judges for the open competition leading to a choice of ten artists for this prize show. There were 650 applicants, and the spread of good work was such that 43 entrants were in the top ten of at least one judge! Not surprsingly, the show is interesting, and includes several artists I particularly like. I’ve posted a sample of the finalists and wider entries at which shows what I mean. The winner - Tom Ormond - was chosen on 4 August from a field which ranged from English painter Andy Harper’s vegetative abstraction to the social documentary portraits of South African photographer Michelle Sank to sculpture made for viewer participation by Australian Steven Morgana.

Flowing in Black

Marta Marcé @ Riflemaker, 79 Beak St - Soho

To 3 Sept:

Last month’s selection of ‘galleries you could walk by unknowingly’ might have included Riflemaker, which is still disguised as a gunshop eight years after opening. Three previous exhibitions already made the Anglo-Spanish painter Tot and Virginia’s most-shown, and now Marta Marcé returns – or at least her paintings do, as she herself is stuck in Barcelona, too pregnant to fly. Here s sequence of six big canvasses, three of them diptychs, test the dimensions of the rickety space. They provide the grandest exploration yet of Marcé’s signature use of games, such as tangram, as a means of driving purposed abstraction. Geometric, yet warmly engaged.

Image credits: relevant artists and galleries.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Edouard Manet: Gipsy with a Cigarette, 1862
For those seeking reasons to visit Paris (how hard can it be?), the substantial Manet show at the Musée  D’Orsay has been extended to 17 July. What, the Louvre aside, might go with that? Two other highlights  - a comprehensive book-driven look at Richard Prince’s world at the Bibliothéque Nationale and Francois Morellet’s imaginatively laid out ‘Reinstallations’ at the Pompidou - are at the end of their runs. Several of the obvious big hitters (Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’Art Moderne, Foundation Cartier, Pinacothéque, Perrotin, Marian Goodman, Karsten Greve, Yvon Lambert) are underpowered at present. But on the other hand:

Shari Boyle: King Cobra

My Winnipeg @ La Maison Rouge, 10 Boulevard de la Bastille – 12th Arrondissement

To 25 Sept:

Who’d have thought that the Canadian city of Winnipeg (pop 700,000), best-known for isolation, cold and having once housed Marshall McCluhan and Neil Young, had more than 70 recent artists worth exploring? Perhaps it hasn’t, but it has enough to make this big party of a show thoroughly enjoyable, mostly in a quirky way which casts the Royal Art Lodge (Dzama, Pylychuk, Farber etc) rather than the edgier General Idea (claimed for Winnipeg through college attendance, though more associated with Toronto) as the defining collective. Nor had I realised that Erica Eyres, Karel Funk and Kent Monkman were all born in Winnipeg. Highlights include the Guy Maddin docu-fantasia which provides the show’s name, and ‘Winter Kept Us Warm’, a basement full of work showcasing the potential for erotic action during the snow-bound months.

Joe Bradley: Big Indian

Joe Bradley: ‘Duckling Fantasy’ & Peter Peri: ‘We, The Children of the Twentieth Century’ @ Galeie Almine Rech, 40 Rue de Saintonge – 3rd Arrondissement

To 30.7:

Joe Bradley is a hot young artist in New York, but has shown little in Europe. His work varies greatly from series to series, and though I preferred this energetically childish set to the shaped monochromes grouped into figures at the Saatchi Gallery last year, the play between them enhances both. ‘Duckling Fantasy’ presents dirty abstraction (largely due to Bradley walking on the work) with underlying comic cuts in pseudo-clunky style: a tweaking of action painting’s tail to go with his earlier pulling of Ellsworth Kelly’s leg. And then there’s Rech’s other floor, of the dependably excellent Peter Peri...

Contemporary Grotesque: Walking

Keith Tyson: Contemporary Grotesque @ Galerie Vallois, 36 Rue de Seine – 6th Arrondissement

To 30 July:

I wouldn’t have guessed that the extraordinary graphite and resin ‘Contemporary Grotesques’, in a register round about Ashley Bickerton meets John Currin, were by Keith Tyson. But in his established way of bringing scientific issues into art, Tyson see them as ‘defences against accepting that each person has an identical character’, shown in the carbon from which we’re all made. I’ve no idea whether I liked the skeletal dancer, walrus-rider , triple group of urinators etc, but they certainly grabbed my attention.

Julien Prévieux: Dimensions in Modern Management @ Jousse Entreprise, 6 Rue St Claude – 3rd Arrondissement

To 28 July:

This first of two neighbouring conceptual installations utilising books sees young French artist Julien Prévieux range from google sketching to patented gestures. It centres on ‘Forget the Money’, an installation of a hundred books acquired in the post-conviction sale of the assets of Bernard Madoff, who notoriously made off with so much cash from other people. Prévieux extracts from these those sentences which contain the word ‘money’. In sound and writing, they form both a disquisition on obsession and an unbalanced pseudo-narrative which comes worryingly close to sense at times.

Untitled (Walt)

Gareth Long: Four Stories @ Torri, 7 Rue St Claude – 3rd Arrondissement

To 16 July:

New-York based Canadian Gareth Long plays off the iconic US designs for J.D. Sa¬lin¬ger’s novels. The books themselves appear with all but the diagonal rainbow flashes erased from their covers, perhaps referencing Salinger’s notorious secrecy. That pattern is then transmuted into large lenticular prints which distort the geometric modernist content as the moving viewer reads them, paralleling the way in which Salinger’s writing fractured modernist approaches. What’s nice is how the shifting Louis-come-Stella-come-Riley references draw you so effectively into the story of the work.

Jean-Michel Othoniel

Paris - Delhi – Bombay @ the Pompidou Centre - 3rd Arrondissement

To 19 Sept:

The Pompidou’s main summer show is a riot of mostly big, high impact pieces by 50 of the best-known artists from France and India, most of it made specifically for the show on the theme of ‘What is India Today?’, and shown in themed groups such as ‘home’ and ‘religion’. It makes for a suitably teeming experience, in which I particularly liked Loris Gréaud’s tantric room and Jean-Michel Othoniel’s first musical instrument sculpture on the French side; and Dayanita Singh’s night photographs and Sunil Gawde’s garlands of razor blades - two of the less spectacular Indian contributions compared with, say, the biggest installation of kitchen utensils I’ve ever seen from Subodh Gupta – and I’ve seen a few…

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.