Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 70: ‘17 = 276’

                       Susan Collis The Oysters Our World Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 70: ‘17 = 276’

Susan Collis: ‘The oyster’s our world’, 2004 – Wooden stepladder, mother of pearl, shell, coral,fresh water pearl, cultured pearls, white opal, diamond

Among London’s smaller galleries, I particularly like Seventeen. Fronted by Dave Hoyland, it’s friendly, imaginative and unpredictable; counts some favourites of mine among its own artists (Susan Collis, Graham Dolphin, Oliver Laric); runs two shows at a time; and is open to all sorts of unpredictable stuff, typified by the basement film programme curated by Paul Pieroni from 2007-09. And it was always easy to explain where it was: 17 Kingsland Road, near Hoxton Square.
Now, though, it’s moving further up the road to increasingly fashionable Dalston, and so joins the mildly illogical group of galleries who aren’t where their name says they are. New York’s 303 Gallery may hold the numeral shift record, having left 303 Park Avenue South in 1986 and arrived at its present 507 West 24th Street via numbers 513, 89, 525 and 547 on four other roads between. In less integral paradoxes, Hay Hill soon moved to Cork Street then Baker Street; Paradise Row has just closed on Newman Street; and Christopher Crescent has got as far as Brussels from its eponymous Hackney address. Frith Street has been in Golden Square for seven years (but has just announced the addition of a project space in…. Frith Street!). First up from 4 September in Seventeen’s new incarnation at 270-276 Kingsland Road is the group show ‘Either’ and a solo for Sachin Kaeley, the only painter the gallery represents, albeit in a decidedly post-internet mode.
               Sachin Kaeley 2013 20 crop Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 70: ‘17 = 276’

              Sachin Kaeley, ‘Acrylic and spray paint on board’, 2013

Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 69: ‘Spirit of a City’

amelie 5 Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 68: ‘Spirit of a City’

Amelie von Wulffen: from her Untitled selection, 2010-13 – here it’s the glasses of wine which have a post-coital cigarette

Art Biennials are great ways of getting around unfamiliar aspects of a city. Venice is the archetype, but it works elsewhere, even if – as in the current Liverpool Biennial and its associated shows – most of the art itself is uninspiring. You get, for example, into a fascinating circular block of social housing to see… a one hour 1980 TV programme by Jef Cornelis featuring four Belgian professors in a sub-titled discussion of the role of the intellectual in Flemish society. Or tour the peeling atmospherics of a former blind school and trade union HQ for the main group show, most memorable for an eight channel sound room with linked script by Rana Hamadeh, aggressive enough to be physically challenging as it pulls you into the Shiite ritual of Ashura. More reproducibly, Amelie von Wulffen’s adventures of fruit and tool characters tread the borders between art and illustration, children’s storyboard and adult perversity, with some wit. The John Moores Painting Prize had its few moments, including Jane Bustin’s transcendental move into copper – mysteriously not among the five works shortlisted – shown here reflecting Juliette Losq’s vertiginously drawn hinterland, which is. Open Eye’s spanking new premises have an appealing backwater of Hans Haake’s practice: his student photographs documenting Documenta 1959; and the old Open Eye space, remodelled as Model, has the lively group show ‘Axolotl’. Still, most of the best art was in the least surprising venue: Tate Liverpool, where imaginative re-presentations of less-often seen parts of the Tate collection (highlight: Paul Nash’s bark and slate collages) were shown, plus Nasreen Mohamedi’s tremblingly drawn grid dispersions and Mondrian as seen through his studios.

liverpool 027 moores comp Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 68: ‘Spirit of a City’
Juliette Losq’s ‘Vinculum’ reflected in Jane Bustin’s ‘Christina the Astonishing’ 

Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in Surrey. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 68: ‘Please Release Me’

      bank 1 Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 67: ‘Please Release Me’
Artspeak’s dodgy reputation isn’t new, as shown by BANK’s PRESS RELEASE project, now on show at Tate Britain (and at www.john-russell.org). In a process which now seems touchingly archaic, the collective (running 1991-2003, and featuring John Russell, Simon Bedwell and Milly Thompson at the time) gave marks out of ten and made unsolicited critical annotations on the type-written hand-outs from 1998-99. They faxed them to the galleries by way of free consultancy on how to tidy up their self-presentation and avoid ‘the new bureaucratic meta-language’ of ‘meaningless mannerisms’ and ‘badly thought out (non) theory and jargon’. The rebukes are fun, but did their efforts have any effect? Stephen Friedman scored 1/10: criticisms included a habit of dealing in opposites such as ‘both serious and frivolous’, a technique which ‘means you have nothing to say about the work’. Maureen Paley (1.5/10) was traduced for using the hesitant term ‘can appear’ and for how ‘extremely bad use of punctuation and grammar’ marred a press release ‘refreshingly devoid of any ideas’. The approach garnered a comparatively dizzying 2.25/10, despite some empty terms of praise: viz ‘you keep telling us things are important – I’m becoming suspicious’ and ‘what does ‘beautiful’ mean? This is a press release, not a script for The Antiques Roadshow.’ Perhaps it’s the impact of word processing, but this year’s output from the three galleries looks far more professional and avoids those sins. The writing is also reasonably clear, excepting The approach’s text on Alice Channer, in which ‘instead of volume, the tensile subject aspires to a back-end viral aesthetic’ and ‘the dialectic between concept and matter collapses’.

       bank 3 Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 67: ‘Please Release Me’

Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 67: ‘The Process of Fashion’

alexis harding orange rev Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 66: ‘The Process of Fashion’

Alexis Harding: ‘Orange Revolution’, 2014: Oil and gloss paint on wood

Young American painters of process-based abstraction seem to be market darlings at the moment, from Ryan Sullivan’s chemical tilt-mixing of various paints to Wade Guyton pushing computer printers past their limit to Sam Falls’ use of the weather. I was reminded of such approaches by two excellent current shows. Mummery & Schnelle’s gathering of thoughtful abstraction (to 2 Aug) includes three paintings by London-born Alexis Harding. He’s been exploring the after-life of paint for two decades, applying enamel gloss over incompatible oil and giving it months to respond to gravity. Thus in ‘Drop Out’, the paint tries to escape downwards – in some works it reaches the floor – while ‘Orange Revolution’ refers not so much to the Ukraine as to how the canvas has been rotated during production. The Belmacz’s small and unusual space has room for only three of the Berlin-based Dane Morten Skrøder Lund’s large and adventurous paintings (‘Wellbound’ to 6 Sept). I like them all, but he seems to have begun each from scratch with startlingly different results – as if building accident into not just how a painting turns out, but how it’s conceived. One conjoins two canvases hammered into each other and has allowed paint to run through nail holes; one its rainbows of lacquer and acrylic overlaid with slabs of corroded Polystyrene; one has had silicon injected through the back, and a plastic sheet stretched over the front. The workings of the market are hard to fathom, but I can’t help wondering: if they were recent American graduates, would Harding and Skrøder Lund be stars of the auction room?

                     Untitled 2014 Oil wax acrylic vinyl paint styrofoam glass copper screws on canvas 170 x 130cm 11 Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 66: ‘The Process of Fashion’  
Morten Skrøder Lund: ‘Untited’, 2014: Oil, wax, acrylic, vinyl, paint, styrofoam, glass, copper, screws on canvas

Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 66: ‘Late Arrival’

         Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 66: ‘Late Arrival’
      Clive Hodgson: Untitled, 2012

It’s nice to see an underrated artist steal into the limelight, and such is the case with the painter Clive Hodgson (born 1953), who’s just had his American debut (at White Columns in April). Now he finds himself in three of the many summer shows now open, which almost all do far more than lazily lump together the gallery’s own roster. Simon Lee, Laura Bartlett, Pace and Carroll / Fletcher would be my pick of the Hodgsonless group exhibitions, and he’s in three others – proving how his modestly-sized, primarily abstract paintings can fulfill various agendas. July at The Approach concentrates on mark-making, so foregrounding Hodgson’s waveringly nuanced and washily layered use of oils. Timothy Taylor’s Slow Learner, curated by Andreas Leventis, includes artists who employ text and symbols to subvert meaning. That fits with Hodgson’s repurposing of emblems from decorative traditions; and with the way he privileges both their date of making and his name to align, in White Columns’ words ‘the melancholic daily realities of On Kawara with a decidedly informal take on formalism’. Sherman Sam sees that as ‘existential, in that it is declarative of existence – both the artist’s and the work’s’. Sam himself curates a beautifully surprising cross-generational flower show at Ancient & Modern, which includes both sketchily direct flowers and a painting of circles which, given the context, stand as floral.

     Clive Hodgson Untitled Circles 2011  Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 66: ‘Late Arrival’

      Clive Hodgson: Untitled (Circles), 2011

Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 65: '28 Years and 1.1’

kissing gold sarah anne j Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 64: ’28 Years and 1.1’
Sarah Anne Johnson: ‘Kissing Gold’, 2013 from the series ‘Wonderlust’, in ‘The Combinational’ at Studio 1.1

I recently came across a copy of Art Monthly for July 1986. The magazine doesn’t look so different from the July 2014 issue, and – like that – includes listings of some 200 forthcoming shows. The public sector landscape was similar, though there was of course just the one Tate. Much else has changed. A number of less contemporarily-oriented commercial galleries – Browse & Darby, Crane Calman, Colnaghi, Francis Kyle, Redfern – remain but no longer feature in the Art Monthly listings. They’ve become more selective, given that there are now far more galleries in total. Only a dozen of what I’d see as non-public galleries with a contemporary focus still exist: the long runners are Annely Juda, Flowers, Anthony Reynolds, Maureen Paley (then ‘Interim Art’), Matts Gallery, the Mayor Gallery and Victoria Miro, which have all moved at least once since then; and Bernard Jacobson, Gimpel Fils, Hamiltons, Marlborough and Waddington, which have stayed put. Anthony d’Offay (which ran 1965-2001) is the best-remembered of the spaces since closed. Among the many which have gone and I’ve never heard of, Diorama, the Narwhal Eskimo Art Gallery, 9H, Monolith, the Submarine Gallery, Vortex and The Young Unknowns sound rather distinctive. Of course, my favourite features of the July 2014 issue are my own review and the listing of the show I’ve curated at Studio 1.1 (founded 2003)…

mapplethorpe pooppy1988 Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 64: ’28 Years and 1.1’

Robert Mapplethorpe: ‘Poppy’, 1988 at Hamiltons – ‘an erotic reading’ is that ‘Mapplethorpe captured the flower in an uncommon position – from behind. The carefully positioned light source emphasized this ‘backdoor’ point of view’ (Peter Schultz)

Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 64: ‘Only Connect’

chan 20 haircut l the argument haircut of the year 12 13 Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 64: ‘Only Connect’
Paul Chan: ‘Haircut of the Year’, 2012-13

Artists are interested in connections, so it seems like an obvious move to use electronic cables as a physical representative of linkages… yet I don’t recall that being done as thoroughly as it currently is in both Basel and London. In Switzerland, Paul Chan is the subject of the 2014 show at Schaulager (to 19 Oct) – an immense and impressive space which concentrates on putting together one magisterial survey each year. It features Chan’s Henry Darger based cartoon history of the world; falling ‘Lights’ projections on the floor; paintings on the covers of 1005 books; shadow-play explorations of the Marquise de Sade – and the latest stream to emerge from Chan’s impressive variety: ‘arguments’ in which electronic cables, plugs and sockets combine – sometimes with abject found objects, including hundreds of shoes in his biggest argument – to suggest the logical flows of philosophical analysis. The cables generate a distinctive aesthetic most easily related to drawing. Jim Lambie (at Sadie Coles to 16 Aug) is more painterly and musical: he’s plugged electric guitar cables into glossy monochromes which incorporate paint-drenched sections of men’s clothing. Typically enough, the cast-off and quotidian is pressed into the service of art historical references and a lyrical, maybe transcendental, use of colour. Lambie’s show also includes shoes, dangling on safety pin chains… I dare say any artist can be connected to any other in three steps – Lambie and Chan, though, need just the one.

Lambie ANswer MAchine Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 64: ‘Only Connect’
                        Jim Lambie: ‘Answer Machine’, 2014

ART STUFF on a train # 63: ‘Monitor as Star’

start 032 prodger ART STUFF on a train # 63: ‘Monitor as Star’

The Block & Charlotte Prodger: ‘Markets’, 2014

When visiting Tate Britain – as you really should while Phyllida Barlow is in regally ramshackle occupation – pop into the Chelsea Space opposite. For The Block and Charlotte Prodger’s ‘Markets’ (to 26 July) the video monitor takes centre stage. A monitor might be described as a means of showing films which has an industrial rather than domestic identity, and which isn’t equipped to receive a broadcast signal. None has ever been commercially produced for art exhibition purposes, but the Hantarex MGG (1989-2005) and the Sony Cube (1986-96) gained a reputation as good vehicles for art prior to the rise of the flat-screen. That stemmed from such features as an absence of visually intrusive frontal controls, a minimal frame, and an integrated handle for ease of lifting and stacking. Now The Block, set up by Matthew Fitts with the primary purpose of acquiring and refurbishing those two obsolete monitors, has designed and produced a hybrid, splicing their qualities. Charlotte Prodger (Turner Prize shortlist 2017, you heard it here first) makes minimalist but canny use of them. She broadcasts the fascinating story of how Gertrude Stein (or was it her new lover, Alice B. Toklas?) corrupted a text’s meaning by replacing every ‘may’ or ‘May’ with ‘can’ or ‘today’ in order to avoid reminding herself of ex-lover May Bookstaver. Meantime the four screens make somewhat Stein-like concrete poetry from the names of horses related to one part-owned by Fitts, as if to suggest a parallel substitution move. But those smart, sculptural monitors are the stars…

the block Sony PVM 2730 ART STUFF on a train # 63: ‘Monitor as Star’

Sony Cube 27″


Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 62: ‘Constable at the Double’

hadleigh castle Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 62: ‘Constable at the Double’

John Constable: Sketch for ‘Hadleigh Castle’ circa 1828-9

Whilst some commercial galleries have closed in response to tough times, the institutional response tends to be to rotate shows more slowly, and to rely on re-presenting existing holdings rather than on securing loans. Thus Tate Britain’s ‘Ruin Lust’ (March-May) appeared to have been selected by the simple means of entering the term ‘ruin’ into the Tate’s collection’s data base. The current ‘Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation’ (to 10 Aug) isn’t quite like that, but a high proportion is from the Tate or the National Gallery. Indeed, one painting made it into both shows. Fortunately, Constable’s ‘Hadleigh Castle’ was a double highlight. It sat well in ‘Ruin Lust’ because it gets at incompletion from both directions: as a sketch, it’s prior to Constable’s full realisation of his vision; and as a building it’s been uncompleted by time. ‘Looking for Civilisation’ demonstrates Clark’s tastes through what he bought, commissioned or wrote about, and he cited Constable’s oil sketch as the refutation of those who asked why British painters were ‘charming and decorative no doubt, but entirely lacking in the passion and dramatic power of our literature’(in The Listener, 1937. Other lordly choices include swathes of Sutherland, Moore and Piper and some fine early Pasmores from a period when Clark paid him a salary by way of encouragement. ‘Evening Star’ is a landscape which anticipates aspects of the abstract turn, contrary to Clark’s tastes, which Pasmore would soon take.

pasmore The Evening Star Effect of Mist 1946 7 Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 62: ‘Constable at the Double’

Victor Pasmore: ‘The Evening Star: Effect of Mist’, 1946-7

Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in Surrey. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?


Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 61: ‘Ellipso and Downpoint’

oval 1forWeb vaux Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 61: ‘Ellipso and Downpoint’

Mark Vaux: ‘OV. S.9.’, 2014

Almost anything goes in painting these days – no need for paint or ground, for example, let alone a particular shape. But a shaped canvas remains the norm, and the overwhelming majority are rectangular. By way of alternative, the circular tondo is notoriously awkward to handle. Perhaps there should be more ovaloids, such as Thomas Grünfeld’s playfully macabre ‘Augenbilder’, which incorporate glass eyes so that the painting seems to look at the viewer. Just so, Marc Vaux revealed some exemplary (eggsemplary?) examples at Bernard Jacobson 2-31 May. They’re constructs as well as ovals, Vaux being a fine multiplier and exploiter of edges as a means of complicating space, colour and light. Perhaps what the format needs is a snappy popularising name (elipso!?). Triangles are also unusual, especially when pointing down. Yet my favourite works in Darren Flook’s first curation for Max Wigram (‘Ice Fishing’, to 26 July), are three such triangles by the Chicago-based McArthur Binyon, divided with cunning near-symmetry into one almost-half covered with obsessively ground-in wax crayon, the other subjected to laser-printed images rendered ghostly by submersion in oil stick . Their back story – and the images’ source – is as a parallel for his family’s transition from tenant farming in rural Mississippi to factory work in Detroit. ‘The same hands’, says Binion, ‘which bled picking cotton as a child, now bleed from the abrasion of colored wax on wood.’

                    McArthur Binion Stelluca VII 2011 Pauls ART STUFF on a train # 61: ‘Ellipso and Downpoint’

                      McArthur Binion: ‘Stelluca VII’, 2011

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.