Sunday, 23 September 2012


No doubt about it, October is huge: two Friezes and satellites; the big galleries – including new American ones and the relocated David Roberts space – making their debuts or putting on their best; such major public exhibitions as the  persuasive end of Chinese contemporary at the Hayward, Bronzes at the Royal Academy, the Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain, Bharti Kher at the Parasol Unit, David Nash at Kew Gardens, Tony Cragg along Exhibition Road, and a vast amount of photography at the Barbican and Tate Modern.  Is there time for anything else?  If so, here are some extra shows well worth seeing but which might easily be missed in such a peak period...
Italian Artist, end of XVII century, Vanitas 
WHITE: Marbles and Paintings from Antiquity to Now @ ROBILANT + VOENA, 38 Dover St – Central

4 Oct – 14 Dec:

The art world may wear black, but white is probably the most consistently on-trend production colour and here it informs a whole show, mainly through marble sculptures. They range from classical to neo-classical to contemporary artists who use marble not just as a beautiful material in itself, but to make a bridge from the past to current concerns or else to kick against its historic resonances - all this with a white backdrop of 1960’s Italian abstraction which makes the canvas a sculptural element. This proto-modern 17th century vanitas is among the works which Tom Sachs' marble trash can seems ready to receive. 

Andreas Blank: Element 1
Recasting the Gods @ Sumarria Lunn, 36 South Molton Lane

This darker collection shows a younger generation entering an equally productive dialogue with the classical. Materials are the core of their responses: Meekyoung Shin’s conceptually suggestive soap busts weathered by hand-washing; the past recast in broken graphite by Nika Neelova; Nick van Woert’s mock-innocent weapons of white bronze; and Andreas Blank’s apparent desire to give permanent value to the corporate office environment in agate, basalt, gypsum, quartzite, slate… Darren Harvey-Regan neatly  perverts all that: he painstakingly painted  the Photoshop checkerboard signifier of emptiness onto classical forms, only to photograph the results to yield what could have been a simply generated  Photoshop look.

Black Square (detail)

Susan Collis: That Way and This @ Seventeen Gallery, 17 Kingsland Rd - Hoxton

4 Oct - 10 Nov:

The interface with art of the past moves forward to modernism here, as Sue Collis’ way of applying obsessive attention to the overlooked takes the twist of alighting on an aspect of Malevich’s ‘Black Suprematic Square’ (1915) which viewers can hardly miss, but may try to ignore: namely, the fractured surface, which Collis documents in a painstaking drawing. It’s part of a show which lovingly focuses on – indeed, creates - the flaws in things, most of them custom-manufactured to Collis’ exactingly incorrect specifications. Plus, in a separate show downstairs, a fascinating experiment in inter-penetrative sound art…

Daido Moriyama: Tights and Lips @ Michael Hoppen Contemporary, 3 Jubilee Place - Chelsea

To 20 Oct:

This show brings together all twenty of Moriyama's semi-abstracted shots of legs in fishnet tights, hovering between pattern and perversity; just as many close-ups of lips; and a dozen of the gritty city explorations featured more fully at his Tate Modern retrospective (10 Oct - 20 Jan), to yield a neat mini survey of the veteran Japanese photographer's unsettlingly predatory black and white world. Most of the mouths are images of images such as street posters, television screens and reflections, suggesting meaning distorted in the transmission as well as social fragmentation and isolation. Just one image combines lips and tights... 

Maggie Hambling's John Berger: it's not in the Inigo Rooms, but I like it...
John Berger: Art and Property Now @ King’s Cultural Institute, Inigo Rooms, Somerset House - Strand

This enjoyably serious exhibition in a little-known six room space features paintings (Leger, Auerbach, Peter de Francia’s of his girlfriend, who went on to marry Berger), photography (Jean Mohr chronicling Berger’s cragification), video (notably of Berger talking us through the chance to join in a life drawing session) and a sound work as well as audio and written archives. It tracks the Marxist  art critic from budding painter (but there were ‘too many political urgencies’ to dedicate himself to that)  to provocative critic and novelist  to story-telling analyst of change in the rural economy of his French Alpine redoubt.  It’s so well put together, I  hardly cared that the fascinating ‘The Success and Failure of Picasso’ hardly features. Talking of which...

Woman Showing Joy

Paul Housley:  England Sleeps @ Poppy Sebire Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street – Southwark

To 20 Oct:

The eye-poppingly dominant presence here is Picasso. That's enjoyable in itself, but what’s the justification? First, several are self portraits and convey both Housley's own love of paint and of its masters - in line with Picasso's own homagist practice. Second, Picasso’s tropes are pushed to absurd lengths: Paul / Pablo's beady eyes multiply and a landscape somehow appears in his head. Third, a closer look reveals that others are involved, notably Rembrandt: ‘Woman showing Joy’ sneaks in his 'Woman Bathing in a River' under the heavy cover of  Picasso's most radical early 30's nudes. It’s more than imitation fun, then... and the sculptures are something else. 

Optical Coatings (Non-Basic Colour Terms)

Jonathan Parsons: Zed's Dead @ The Arch Gallery, 289 Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Rd - Cambridge Heath

5 - 24 Oct:

Jonathan Parsons has kept a relatively low London profile since his dissected map hung - literally - in 'Sensation', but has continued to investigate methods of producing visual meaning by separating out aspects of, for example, flags, the grid and graffiti marks, and pushing them to their limits.  This then, is a welcome show: it features a dot matrix sculpture, disk paintings which spin off from how children pick up colour words, and reverse drawings which confuse figure and ground. Seductive visuals emerge as if by chance - but it's an art in itself to create the context for that chance.

Dark Mesh

Mali Morris: Back to Front @ the Eagle Gallery, 159 Farringdon Road - Clerkenwell

To 13 October: 

Mali Morris’ paintings, energised by their interplay of the planned and the spontaneous, both hide and reveal. First, she fills the canvas with a variety of bright colours; second, she covers those with darker strokes; third, she niftily sponges off small shapes – often dots, recently squares, too - from the top surface. Typically, she’ll go through that cycle several times before she’s satisfied with the push and pull between accumulating layers, and the exactness of the colour-chord discovered. Though far from didactic, I wonder if they might suggest that, while we all have hidden depths, we need to find a social way to display and harmonise them.

 Shana Moulton: Prevention @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies St - Mayfair

9 - 27 Oct:
Californian artist Shana Moulton’s video installations bring performative spontaneity, kooky narrative logic and a colourful pseudo-transcendental kitsch to the absurdities of consumer life and its promises of self-improvement. Objects take on an anthropomorphic quality, spilling over to become props which blur the boundaries between film and setting, further complicated when Moulton herself – or is it her hypochondriac and unworldly alter ego Cynthia? –  performs in person alongside. Her new work, triggered by advertisements in US health magazine ‘Prevention’, pushes those fun factors further whilst addressing the exaggeration of ailments for commercial gain – standing, perhaps, for the wider ailment of manipulated desire.

Bedwyr Williams: Dear Both @ Ceri Hand Gallery, 71 Monmouth St – Covent Garden

6 Oct – 3 Nov 

Another artist to expand from and yet retain aspects of performance is the third – and last – to be given the run of the large spaces which Ceri Hand opened temporarily on her welcome move from Liverpool (ahead of taking up permanent residence in Fitzrovia). Those who saw the crashed lamppost or heard the singing toothbrushes at Bedwyr Williams’ recent Ikon solo will be anticipating more engagingly droll yet pointed wackiness in these new sculptures, films, drawings and photographs – even beforehand, as next year’s Welsh rep in Venice uses his  press release to make such entertaining threats as ‘to eat your wedding presents in front of you’. 

The Grid Contains the Liquid (Detail)
Nick Darmstaedter: Bells and Whistles Can of Worms @ Ritter/Zamet, 80A Ashfield St - Whitechapel

To 29 Oct:

Marcus Ritter’s has an impressive record of showing interesting young American artists, and the latest is 24-year-old Nick Darmstaedter. Among his several strands are paintings made by ‘printing’ with copper-rich (and therefore pre-1982) US pennies, to which Darmstaedter applies a salt and vinegar solution which accelerates the formation of a patina which bleeds nicely. A paradoxically rich mix of history (via Lincoln's head), recessionary economics, pattern and chance result from the least valuable cash in gridded or free formations. I also liked his assisted readymade combination of manhole covers and barbell to make a kind of street savvy weight for lifting.   

Money, copper threads

Alice Anderson: From Dance to Sculpture @ Riflemaker, 79 Beak St - Soho 

8 Oct - 24 Nov (performance days 9 -14 Oct):

The artistic community of binders is in good fettle: at the Hayward you can see how Liang Shaoji has arranged for silk worms to cocoon objects over several years; and at  Riflemaker Alice Anderson, the French Algerian daughter of a ballet dancer, leads a troop of 20 whose movements are choreographed by the action required to bind the entire contents of her studio in copper thread. The sculptures emerging from their six full days of trance-movement will preserve, obscure and refer to the elements of Anderson’s overall practice, known for its Freudian mythicising of her own strikingly coppery hair. 

Images courtesy of the relevant artists + galleries + National Portrait Gallery (Berger)

Sunday, 9 September 2012


Everything gets going big-time from the first week of September across a couple of hundred galleries. Here's what's appealed to me most so far: we start with sexual innuendo before  entering the void...


Daniel Sinsel @ Sadie Coles HQ, 69 South Audley StMayfair

To 29 Sept:

London-based German painter Daniel Sinsel has a way of sneaking the fetishistic and sexual into classic modernist tropes while also undermining their seriousness with kitsch. His new show is very much par for that course: protruding fingers disrupt the surface of one tar-covered canvas, and several use bindings of custom-made linen tape woven around the frame to set up a grid which is disturbed by the bumps of underlying nuts or inserted items such as glass eyes-come-boiled sweets-come-nipples. Some use colours so archly dated they must be current, but this one is fleshy and seems to have got literally dirty…

Nude IX

Alexandre da Cunha: Full Catastrophe @ Thomas Dane Gallery, 3 & 11 Duke St – Central

British-Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha is known for sculptures which make the most of surrealist and art-historical aspects of found objects. Here he contrasts the two spaces, in both achieving an unexpected impact. At No. 11 the battered drums of old concrete mixers are elevated into archaeological discoveries. At No. 3 are ‘paintings’ in which the plane (which may be canvas, towel, dust sheet, leather…) is interrupted in a sort of reverse Fontana move by the jut of sun hats which, along with their titling as ‘nudes’, makes the work feel even more titillating than Sinsel’s. ‘Nude IX’ is more complex than it may appear: I reckon there are 17 hats attached, of increasing circumference.

Julia Riddiough: Roxanne Series @ A Brooks Art, 194-196 Hoxton St

To 29 Sept:

An unreconstituted ex-florist’s is now a lively artist-run space with a community focus. There Julia Riddiough cues the viewer in to a different world: she gained access not to the interior detail of an east end  lap-dancing club as she’d intended, but to the CCTV screens which, for legal reasons, are used to record activity in its ‘private rooms’. She grabbed hundreds of images and homed in on six which echo painterly traditions – here Degas’ – of depicting the nude. We join that history as extra regressions in what one of the women characterised as ‘the strange sensation… of always looking at myself through the eyes of others’.

Nor Any Haunt of Mine

Emma Bennett: And, Afterwards @ CHARLIE SMITH London, 336 Old St (above The Reliance) – Hoxton

To 6 Oct:

Two years ago (see for my still-relevant interview) I commended the way Emma Bennett's paintings combine four things – a black void, images sourced from Dutch golden age painting, an abstract expressionist intervention in furniture polish, and the striking effect of combining those three – to bring together four different timescales: the 17th century of the sources, 20th century of the abstract gesture, 21st century of their combination, and eternity of the void. This new set has an increased emphasis on gravity, with dead animals falling through the void, and an intense new element in fire, the flames of which flicker into Bennett's increasingly subtle splurges of polish.

Greedily She Engorged Without Restraint, And Knew Not Eating Death

Boo Saville: The World, The Flesh and The Devil @ TJ Boulting, 59 Riding House St - Fitzrovia

To 4 Oct:

Boo (for Rebecca) Saville was just 12 when big sister Jenny made her breakthrough sales to Saatchi in 1992. That could have been intimidating, but she's prospered with a mixture of precision drawing in biro and loose painting in oil on deathly figurative themes… From which this show in the re-located and re-branded Trolley Gallery departs radically. The biro drawings act as Beuysian 'batteries' to immersively-sized oils, and both are monochrome fields built up from obsessive combinations of different colours. That said, the titles and the ominously glowering lustre do provide a bridge to Saville's back-catalogue.


Artists Anonymous: Alice ’ s Apocalypse @ Lazarides Gallery, 11 Rathbone Place – Fitzrovia

To 3 Nov:

London/Berlin collective Artists Anonymous, counter-cultural activists with attitude, have a distinctive and conceptually rich way of combining
‘image’ (a painting, typically from photographs of their own performances) and ‘after-image’ (a colour negative photograph of the painting).  Showing for the first time in a gallery known  for its street art, they play with the fresh context by integrating collages, which look as if they’ve been pasted in street-art style or ripped from outside walls into a darkly fantastical installation. Female anonyme Maya takes centre stage as the image pairs switch back and forth between real and imagined – leaving only the question ‘which is which?’

Eduardo Chillida: CH/C - 10, 1953
Sculptor’s Drawings and Works on Paper @ the Pangolin and Kings Place Galleries – King’s Cross

Both ‘sculptor’ (would Ben Nicholson have so termed himself?) and ‘paper’ are widely defined in this riot of getting on for three hundred works over three levels of the beautifully-appointed Kings Place, but no matter: from Gaudier-Brezeska to Moore to Andre to  Hirst the two galleries have combined to provide a fascinating demonstration of the uses to which drawing can be put. Everyone will have their own plums, but if William Tucker’s writhingly geological all-over nudes, Don Brown’s cheekily meditative pastel belly button and Eduardo Chillida’s career-anticipating collages from 1953 aren’t among yours, I might want to know why…

Lindsay Seers: Nowhere Less Now at The Tin Tabernacle, 12-16 Cambridge Av - Kilburn

To 21 Oct: booking required via

Lindsay Seers’ outlandish, theatrically staged truth-come-stories make compelling art somewhat against the odds out of crazy self-absorption. She’s tracked the history of a 19th century great great uncle who sailed to Zanzibar, and now sets that project in a tin church of the sort exported to the colonies: not only does one survive in Kilburn  – though built as temporary in 1863 – it also contains naval history. Plenty more feeds into a half hour two screen projection under an upturned ship: heterochromia, Masonic uniforms, baobab graffiti, a future without photographs... Confusing, but unmissable for its striking interplay of location and content as well as a powerful sense of how memory affects personal identity.
Andrew Brischler: Last Chance for Romance

TIME, after TIME @ The Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St - Mayfair

The curatorial premise here is that young American abstraction pretty much carries on from the key 50’s-60’s concerns of arte povera. It makes sense, though possibly no more so than if applied to Blain  Southern’s also-interesting show next door. Nor is it hard to cite more recent parallels: Albert Oehlen rather than Schifano for David Mramor’s mashed abstractions, more Joe Bradley than Dorazio in the scruffy studio-worn surfaces over which Andrew Brischler  paints a geometry of psychedelic minimalism using magic markers….  But the Italian classics are good to see; the new work - whatever its antecedents - feels fresh; and the mix hangs together so well I was surprised to find there were 60 paintings.

Noémie Goudal: Haven Her Body Was @ Edel Assanti, 

13th Sept - 14th Oct:
Young London-based French photographer Noémie Goudal has a striking way of combining the actual and the imagined by insinuating an artificial or photographic  landscape into the site she photographs: a polystyrene iceberg, a jungle in a warehouse, a cliff in a vault. We’re torn between the illusion and its evident artifice in a way which parallels Thomas Demand’s take on the world.  Her latest series, 'Haven Her Body Was', implies the presence of unseen subjects caught between the immediate and the mediated, the wild and the civilised in secluded landscapes such as islands, grottoes or shelters.

Images courtesy of relevant galleries and artists + Theirry Bal (da Cunha) + Ian Cox (Artists Anonymous). Bonus points to anyone who notices the transition from Keats to Milton in the void titles...

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.