Sunday, 29 July 2012


Summer is traditionally the time for group shows, and what I'd be inclined to call ‘surveys’ rather than ‘group shows’ below, – and you could add Italian abstraction at the Estorick, Koreans at Saatchi, Anita’s collection (which is big enough to require a survey of its own) at Zablodowitz, more London artists at the Whitechapel and, to be topical, sport and art at the South London Gallery. But there are just as many interesting solo shows about, including what is predictably enough the best in London now (Picasso at the British Museum) and a couple in Henry Moore and Julian Opie which I enjoyed more than I expected to, and think you may do too...

Snow Leopard 

Ralph Fleck: New Paintings @ Purdy Hicks, 65 Hopton Street, Bankside

Freiburg-based Ralph Fleck is a master at using paint so it has a seething abstract intensity close-to yet retains figurative coherence when you step back. He applies that push-pull to crowds, mountains, tower blocks, seascapes and piles of rubbish at his latest Purdy Hicks show, all building on previous versions of those subjects. The application of his technique to camouflage was new to me, though, and seemed immediately logical albeit – in a kind of reverse of the natural world – you could make out nothing of this leopard right up close, but it swam into focus if you stood far enough away… ideally, in the gallery’s office.

Large Two Forms
Henry Moore: Late Large Forms @ Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia Street – King’s Cross

To Aug 18:

Gagosian’s Britannia Street gallery was built to accommodate and stand the weight of Richard Serra, enabling it to swallow the biggest Henry Moores with some ease. The point, I suggest, is to show how successfully the scale effects of interaction with a landscape can be replaced by an indoor set of relations. ‘Exceptionally well’ is the answer, especially in the case of one of his most original late works, the monstrous green 15 foot high ‘Large Two Forms’. Yet a shelf of maquettes shows that inches can work as well as yards: look out for a found flint which is so obviously a Moore in embryo he hardly needed to base a sculpture on it. 
Niki de Saint Phalle:Tir aux Ciseaux, 1961

Nouveau Réalisme @ Luxembourg & Dayan, 2 Savile Row – Central
To 11 Aug, but remains open informally through Aug:
This exemplary sample of work by all 13 of the artists who signed up to  French critic Pierre Restany’s manifesto for ‘new perceptual approaches to reality’ in the early 1960’s shows they’re a diverse group, but a shared delight in re-using commonplace objects is obvious. Several also find an aesthetic through violence: the four affichistes exploit the ripping away of layered posters; Arman smashes a coffee mill; César compresses a car; Niki de Saint Phalle shoots a painting which has some lethal-looking scissors attached; and Yves Klein scorches a Peinture de Feu, albeit with a Bunsen Burner rather than by his more frequent and extreme  flame thrower.  

'Lorenzo', 'Ali' and 'Katie I'

Julian Opie @ the Lisson Gallery, 29 Bell St – Edgeware Rd

I can’t say that Julian Opie has interested me all that much in the past, but this vast presentation of paintings, mosaics, sculptures, glassworks and films features two particularly happy alliances with developing technologies.  Several portrait busts made through three dimensional laser scanning are painted with two-dimensional shadow effects, so that not only does a spatial contradiction occur, but a racial ambiguity develops. And Opie uses algorithmic loops to infuse (for example) a schematically-rendered apple tree bough with contrastingly realistic insects moving across it. 

Mustapha Hulusi: 'Abstract Roses' 
 THIS IS LONDON @ Shizaru, 112 Mount St – Mayfair

To 28 Sept:

This intensely-hung exhibition fits more than a hundred works by 46 London-based artists into an unusual set of spaces which used to be a jeweller’s and includes three barred vaults. Much of what’s on show is sourced from such high quality collaborators as Victoria Miro, Max Wigram, Seventeen, Josh Lilley and Anita Zaludowicz. No-one will like all of such a gathering, but all will enjoy a good percentage: David Ersser’s wooden neon, a new-to-me variant on Mustafa Hulusi’s hallucinatory diptychs, Keith Coventry on crack and Bouke de Vries’ broken ceramics, for examples…  and a dozen of Alison Jackson’s celebrity-like photos topically include the Queen’s attempt on the 100m hurdles. 

Untitled 22, 11:30 AM – 4:30 PM, July 14, 2012

 Julia Dault @ White Cube, Bermondsey

To 26 Aug:

Young Brooklyner Julia Dault is one of a fascinating quartet of process-oriented artists showing over summer at the newest and biggest White Cube. Her performative sculptures are made from rolls of Plexiglas and formica which she wrestles into place on site: they’re titled for how long it takes to fix their gleamingly coiled energy with Everlast boxing wraps – some kickboxing classes having alerted her to its suitability. Dault is slight, though, and told me she felt the irony when struggling with her work at New York’s recent New Museum triennial amongst plenty of installers – whom she couldn’t allow to help because her own negotiation with materials is of the essence.

Stefan Brüggemann: Untitled (Joke & Definition Painting)

 Misrepresentation Mistake and Non – Disclosure @ the Rove space, 33-34 Hoxton Square – Hoxton

To 25 Aug:

Stefan Brüggemann  emerges as the key figure in this stimulating survey of five Mexicans who tend towards the dystopic with a conceptual twist.  London/Mexico City based artist is known for the paradoxically fecund play he makes with negation, in such work as scribbled-out neons and obliterated mirrors. Now he’s found a way to negate two conceptual works by overlaying definitions from Joseph Kosuth’s philosophically-driven ‘Art as Idea as Idea’ series onto Richard Prince’s jokes from popular culture. Oddly enough (or perhaps predictably given that -2 x -2 = 4) the result feels positive.

Love Letters
Sara Barker: Woman at a Window @ Modern Art, 23/25 Eastcastle Street - Fitzrovia 

To 4 Aug,then by appointment to 11 Aug:

Somewhat surprisingly, this is Manchester-born, Glasgow-based Sara Barker’s first solo show in London She’s a painter, but has mutated towards sculptor through the extreme attenuation of her painted elements and their placement in frame-like constructions so that you look through as much as at them. Yet some summon up figures as well as windows, doors or rooms. Barker’s latest works moves further towards the sculptural by posing on plinths or by disposing altogether with the painted elements. They also gain architectural context by their installation alongside glass panels which echo Modern Art’s (current) window-heavy space.  

Ayan Farah: The Magic Hour
Summer Show – Seven London Graduates @ Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, 11 Church St – Edgeware Road

To 8 Sept (gallery closed 11-31 Aug):

It’s a foot-slog to see all the degree shows, so handy that Patrick Heide has arranged – with admirable speed – to showcase seven recent graduates who appealed to him. My pick of a lively international bunch were Samantha Y. Huang (Taiwan / Chelsea) with an installation of twisted second-hand books nailed to the wall above a heap of chopped pencils; and Ayan Farah (Sweden / RCA), who makes the best of rarely-exploited spaces by installing window-derived fabric works in front of the gallery’s windows, so we see a window in a window in a window. Upstairs, new work by Károly Keserü adds to the pleasure.

Untitled 373
Ditty Ketting: New Paintings @ the Rocket Gallery, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St - Shoreditch

To 9 Sept:

Rocket is one of the few small galleries to run right through August - maybe on account of the furniture side of the business - and I’m pleased to see Dutch painter Ditty Ketting’s group show appearance last December followed up by a solo presentation. Her peculiarly complex yet comprehensible hand-painted takes on the geometric tradition continue to evolve: the new direction here is towards fewer verticals and less use of black and white as a regulator of her rhythms. ‘Untitled 371’ is the first to feature only coloured verticals. That, I would think, carries a higher tariff in Olympic diving terms – but Ketting enters without a splash. 

Talia Chetrit: Studio Through Legs
 Photorealism @ Bischoff/Weiss, 14a Hay Hill - Central

To 11 Aug:

Summer suits this combination of black and white ‘photorealism’, which looks more abstract than you might expect from its title. Four young Americans make faithful, mostly analogue images of such unfigurative subjects as photogrammed beakers (Sheree Hovsepian), billowing smoke (Lisa Oppenheim) and multiply abused and rephotographed sheets of paper (Andrea Longacre-White). Cool indeed, but my favourite work was Talia Chetrit’s imposition of abstraction on a room through the simple device of photographing it through someone’s legs. Which sort of chimes for me with...

Mark Wallinger: Diana
Metamorphosis – Titian 2012 @ the National Gallery

I recommend hot-footing it down to the National Gallery to not-quite-see a real naked woman through three peeping opportunities in Mark Wallinger’s daringly original version of Titian meets Duchamp meets Princess Di, which did make me more fully inhabit the nearby experience of Actaeon. One of the views is through the back of a two-way mirror in which the facial intimacy is startling as the Diana of the time makes up. Not only that, but you also get Chris Ofili’s lush Trinidadian counterpoints, Conrad Shawcross’s robot contraption, stage sets and poetry recitals. Oh yes, and three of the greatest Titians, brought together in a conclusive starting point for those riffs.

Images coutesy of the relevant galleries and artists + Nicholas Moss (Saint Phalle) +Mike Bruce (Moore) + Max Wigram (Hulusi)


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.