SHOWS TO SEE: Up Now in London
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Robert Rauschenberg: ‘Spreads’ 1975-83 at Thaddaeus Ropac to 26 Jan
I took a dozen people – mostly artists – round a dozen West End shows. Everyone agreed the stand-out was Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Spreads’ 1975-83 - in which all manner of content from his classic combines and solvent transfers are spread onto the toast of the simpler, silken ‘Jammers’ (1975–76) without any of it looking muddled. ‘Rumor (Spread)’ 1980 also benefits from a title pun...
Amie Siegel: Backstory to 16 Feb at Thomas Dane Gallery
The presence or absence of Bridget Bardot in 'Contempt' lies at the core of Amie Siegel's dizzying combination of text and film works playing off Goddard's 1963 film and Alberto Moravia's novel 'A Ghost at Noon', 1954, on which it is itself based. Quite possibly the cleverest show currently on view.
A thoroughly enjoyable parade of wit over two twenty minute cycles in a recommended viewing of painting, sculpture, performance and film: one in a darkened space with films, one in the light with performances. 'Work No. 2919 Tree of art' 2018 is the most visually minimal in a packed show of 'difficult thoughts' which prove disarmingly simple. It seemed a touching metaphor of creative growth until I started reading it as 'Fart'.
44 artists contribute small works to the highly entertaining show 'Through the Looking Glass': ideal holiday season fare, but with plenty of yuletide food for thought as well. James Capper, Polly Morgan, Gavin Turk and Paul Benney, with his boldly punning locket and clasp 'Story of the Eye' above, excel. As do two artists invert each other: Nancy Fouts' 'Happy Pills' 2018 are actually ladybirds trapped by a visual pun; whereas there really are pills inside Alice Anderson's worryingly totemic 'Sedatives' 2018.
The 'Plastic Fox' is not just a painting's title, but an item Andy tells me he's always wanted but never found. Now he has one!? 'Pocket of Straws' (above) demonstrates his new method - consistent with the natural-artificial mixture of a plastic fox - of puncturing the surface of his vegetational density with what could be computer swatches (but are actually shapes masked out with Frisket Film at the start of the process, then painted as the last step). Plus upstairs, an informal retrospective selection.
‘Epistemologies (shamed cabinet)’ 2018 sees wounding and liberation – here from the constraints of institutional display – come together in the limping potential escape of a cabinet. What’s more, they’ve found a use for lever arch files, of which a huge pre-digital surplus remains. Darling makes an intriguing job of the ‘Art Now’ room, sparked by the story of St Jerome and the lion, more typically an art historical subject but here the starting point for an epistolary exchange between Darling and a priest who is also transgender, and which leads in to the room’s many and varied works on themes of healing, control and the subjugation of otherness.
Heather Phillipson: My Name is Lettie Eggsyrub at Gloucester Road underground station - throughout 2018.