Saturday, 30 September 2017


Jonny Briggs & Evy Jokhova: The Manicured Wild @ Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, 533 Old York Road – Wandsworth Town


Claire Partington: A Cautionary Tale @ James Freeman Gallery, 354 Upper Street – Angel, Islington 

Tatiana's Dream, 2017 - earthenware, glaze, enamel, lustre and mixed media, height 66cm

 It’s good to see that James Freeman is up and running again after severe flooding last December, and with a striking display of Claire Partington’s ceramics. They combine the skill you would expect from an ex-V&A technician with a slightly sardonic - and assertively female - take on fairy tales and classical art. Transformation stories are presented via works with swappable heads, ancient figures are infected with modern vices, and a gathering of 30-odd lovers’ eyes from various masterpieces make for an attractive yet disturbing presentation.

From Lovers' Eyes, 2017


Lucas Arruda @ David Zwirner, 21 Grafton Street - central

Sem título da série Deserto-Modelo, 2017 Oil on canvas - 24 x 30 cm
Young São Paulo-based painter Lucas Arruda has made quite an impact with his small and systematic oil paintings  which conjure atmospheric – indeed, romantic and panoramic - landscapes from the very verge of abstraction. Turner meets Albers, perhaps, close to monochrome, but with impressive micro-painterly effects, including a lyrical line in scratching. His first London show also includes a room in which very much smaller paintings, made on 81 acetate slides, are projected on a scale far longer than the works on canvas in a 13.30 minute loop. The scale is reversed  yet the effect is comparable.

Slide from Sem título da série Deserto-Modelo, 2017
Projection, paint on 81 acetate slides


Ruairiadh O'Connell: Profiles in Custody @ Josh Lilley, 44 – 46 Riding House Street - Fitzrovia

Profiles in Custody: Bio-foam I, 2017, Foam impression box, rubber, steel, 147 × 37 × 37 cm
 Flash back to 2013 and star American footballer Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder on the evidence of the unique wear on the chevrons of his Air Jordan shoes. Ru O’Connell has form with investigating the influence of patterning on life (airplane seat covers, m’ lord, casino carpets and firefighters' uniforms): his actions, too, have accrued a recognisable profile over time. Here he shows foam impressions of his own trainers, putting himself in the frame as the maker of plaster reliefs cast from their chevron patterns and shaped linen wallworks  printed over with same to constitute a rather soleful self-portrait as a moralist of decoration.   

Profiles in Custody: White Marble, 2017, Hessian, plaster, carbon fibre shards, 76 × 48 cm

Profiles in Custody: Lime, Black and Berry, 2017, Hessian, silicone mould rubber, plaster, carbon fibre, ink


Paul Cole: Dirty Linen @ Sluice Project Space, Arch 11, 12 Bohemia Place - Hackney

To 17 Sept:

Installation view

 The railway arches near Hackney Central Station look set to act as a useful art resource until more commercial developments take over, and the biennial Sluice fair will use four of them at the end of September.  They are already worth visiting for Paul Cole's literal exposure of his dirty linen: abstract-tending self portraits of sorts utilise his family's old bedsheets as low value grounds which  encourage guilt-free spontaneity and enable paint applied on both sides to contribute to the face shown. Some sheets are wall hung, six others take on a more sculptural presence by being draped over pairs of the artist's old shoes. Moreover, Amy Green’s subtle graphite drawings are well worth a look in the neighbouring Arch. 

Bad Hand, 2017 - oil on cotton, 275 x 174 cm

Playground Structure @ Blain | Southern, 4 Hanover Square - Mayfair

Installation view with Jeff Wall Playground Structure, 2008, Amy Feldman Naked Baked, 2016 and Jeremy Moon Ice Palace, 1970 - Photo: Peter Mallet

Had this show been called ‘Deconstructing the Grid’, it might not have seemed a likely summer offering – yet that would equally describe the contents of ‘Playground Structure’, the title actually deriving from a Jeff Wall photograph which makes a climbing frame look like a sculptural grid.  That’s the cue to read the other works as frolickful fun: Daniel Sturgis contributes several eye-popping fizzers, Rachel Howard undermines a wallpaper pattern with psycho colours and what could be smears of blood, Mary Heilmann and Amy Sillman go in soft directions, and the grand cool of Ice Palace is one of two large Jeremy Moons - chosen, perhaps, for what August is meant to be like rather than how it’s actually panning out this year.  If jollity’s not your thing, by the way, head to the Lisson Gallery, where Santiago Serra’s 3-D gridded Impenetrable Structure fills the space with razor wire…

Daniel Sturgis: Care for Yourself, 2017

Wild Flowers (wildness is contextual!) @ narrative projects, 110 New Cavendish St - Fitzrovia

To 16 Sept (closed 14-27 Aug):

Lynn Chadwick: Girl VII, 1975 in front of Georgy Litichevsky's flowers with saws, saber-teeth and a hairy face (2010)
This nifty and impressively sourced curation by Carlos Noronha Feio includes a one-off wallpaper of his own, in which nuclear explosions make the flower pattern too dangerous, I suppose, for reproduction. That sets the tone for a summer flower show with a wild edge. Among the 18 artists, Marte Eknæs’ uses 3D military modelling software to design a rose, Mustafa Hulusi’s brings in the economy and intoxication, Lynn Chadwick and Georgy Litichevsky anthropmorphise their flora with a certain sharpness and Harm van den Dorpel gives us thistles. Yet it’s all rather beautiful…

Alice Ronchi's Indoor Flora, perhaps the inside equivalent of a concrete garden, in front of Carlos Noronha Feio's wallpaper


Transient Space @ Parafin, 18 Woodstock Street - Bond Street

To 16 Sept:

Tim Head, Fugitive Space 1, 1982. Hand tinted photographic collage. 33 × 48 cm
 This sparkling conjunction unites six artists of disparate form who share an interest in the nature of urban space and how we engage with it: Tim Head renders corporate spaces uncanny through reflection and tinting; Abigail Reynolds opens windows onto time and cultural history by collaging book illustrations, their scenes  cut through to reveal the same place in an earlier year; Nathan Coley proposes that distressed sculptural housing blocks be used for political protest; Mike Ballard appropriates hoardings and derives paintings from wall textures; Melanie Manchot films parkour traceurs navigating Newcastle; and there’s an arrow-heavy ‘ontological painting’ by Keith Coventry in case none of that tells us where we are…


Chelpa Ferro: spaceman / caveman @ Sprovieri, 23 Heddon St – Central

To 22 Sept (not Saturdays):

Installation view with hammock occupation  

There was no shortage of art activity in London on the weekend of 1-2 July. Most of the East End’s Art Night activities ran six to midnight on the 1st: on 15 main sites with ludicrously long queues, and 60 collateral events more easily accessed. Further west was the ‘London Art Weekend’ (historic art in 42 galleries) and the Mayfair Art Weekend (exhibitions plus talks in 60 galleries with a more contemporary bias) – both, presumably, timed to coincide with the Masterpiece Art Fair. Phew! The Brazilian threesome Chelpa Ferro’s installation was best place to rest. Spaceman/caveman makes a virtue of the gallery’s columns to hang hammocks in a ramshackle sculptural environment in which you could feel the entropy setting in as 40 minutes of sounds sourced from the internet communicated with and a primitive lighting to, in the show text’s words ‘rebuild genius gibberish to navigate, in a suspended improvisation, towards the present future’.

Bram Bogart: Witte de Witte @ the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd - Chelsea

To 10 Sept:  *

    Bram Bogart: Zinc Jardin, 1960 - mixed media, 106 x 57 cm

Charles Saatchi used to show his own trend-chasing exhibitions of what he’d bought over almost all of his four floors. Now half is taken up with various collaborations. That’s good at the moment: Saatchi’s own showy and uneven ‘From Selfie to Self-Expression’ is combined with Mexican photographer Narciso Contreras’s impactfully disturbing photo report on the people trade in Libya, and by the second ‘Salon’ project, which gives Vigo Gallery the chance to foreground Bram Bogart’s journey from late 50’s impasto gestures of abstraction to a mature style in which the stuff of paint is pushed towards a void of calm materiality – and all without the distraction of colour.

* Careful! The Saatchi Gallery is prone to irregular closures, so it’s essential to check the website before you visit 

Bram Bogart: Blanc, 2006 , mixed media 48 x 53 cm


Florence Peake: WE perform I am in love with my body @ Bosse & Baum, Unit BGC, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane - Peckham

To 8 Sept: 

It sounds too easy: simply to draw around the movement of your own body on the floor, like a selfie version of the police at a murder scene, then raise the result to the vertical. There again it seems too hard, because the last thing you want to look is dead.  Dance-trained Florence Peake did just that in her studio, and the outcomes are much more lively and surprising  - including one view from above – than I would have expected. She describes the process as ‘falling in love with the sensation of movement’, and that's how it feels  as her falling actions rise up onto the wall.

And while you're in the area. pop into two unusual locations: the top of the Rye Lane multistorey, where this year's BOLD TENDENCIES (to 30 Sept) brings Trafalgar Square to Peckam in the form of 2017 Ewa Axelrad's Let’s go. Yes, let’s go. (They do not move); and the hair salon DKUK,in Holdrons Arcade off 135a Rye Lane, where Clare Price's equally performative abstract paintings will envelop you (to 20 Aug).

Clare Price: s-b-p. 2017

Jonny Briggs & Evy Jokhova: The Manicured Wild @ Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, 533 Old York Road – Wandsworth Town


Jonny Briggs: Untitled (self painted grey, cradling photograph of eye as a child, obscuring my own eyes, in front of backdrop held by partner), 116 x 85cm, Photograph mounted and box framed in black, 2016

I’ve followed these artists for a while (indeed I write the texts on their solo shows last year) and they weren’t an obvious pairing, but it turns out they play off each other very effectively, with various  visual and thematic echoes. Briggs co-opts his family into acting out elaborate not-as-fake-as-they-look psycho-dramatic scenarios as if trying to go back in time to alter how he was brought up.  Jokhova is more concerned with our communal place in time and what might mark it as permanent. Cairns, marble and Venice represent possible strategies, complicated here by such tactics as a prevalence of fake stone effects, the inclusion of video as a sculptural element, and building the classical out of cheese. This packed show is all worth thinking about – and is open steadily through August… 

Installation view with  Evy Jokhova's  Sisypha, 2017, a fake rock which is wheeled up and down the High Street daily


Jodie Carey: Earthcasts @ Edel Assanti, 74a Newman St – Fitzrovia

With all the Giacometti up in London at the moment*, it’s hard not to find an echo in Jodie Carey’s gallery-filling installation of 50 spindly figure-surrogates. But of course, there’s a lot more to both artists than attenuation. Carey made her earthcasts by burying timbers from the historically resonant source of the V&A, and replacing the wood with plaster – accepting the many contingencies caused by relative ground wetness, soil type and local matter, and adding some of her own such as the cut-aways and flecks of rainbow pastel. Wandering through the forest of casts makes for fascinating variety-in-sameness along with the references to nature, burial, rebirth, ritual… and maybe even Giacometti.  

* Tate Modern, Thomas Gibson, Gagosian Brittania Street


Installation view with Daniel Rapley's scaled up transcription of his son's drawing, Christina Niederberger's  crochet-style taming of de Kooning even as she pays homage,and Cheryl Papasian's geode sweets
It was enjoyable to select 31 participants for the summer show of artists currently or formerly occupying an ASC studio. I didn't get the chance to see the final install until 17 August, but it looks good - to 23 August, else gives a good impression... My judge's remarks, read out by ASC's Darren O'Brien at the opening on 4 August, were: 

I’m sorry that a family wedding has prevented me attending to meet the artists. My first task was to choose 31 from the 110 who put their work forward. The standard was high, and there were probably 50 with something about them I liked, so I aimed to maximise variety where decisions were marginal. Even so, you’ll be relieved to hear, I won’t touch on all of my choices.  Apologies to those about to go unmentioned, good to have you here!
On arriving at the gallery yesterday I was pleased to confirm that several works would contribute to a distinctive atmosphere: Florence Mytum’s pink spread of suckling points; Amanda Bracken’s jauntily interlinked teacups; Corrina Dean and Duarte Santo’s ominous but beautifully textured air raid shelter; and Henry Byrne’s lightbox illuming Lucy Smallbone’s fire. It was also good to see some themes emerge – plenty of bridges and other architectural echoes and strong geometries, offset by some punchy figuration, and interspersed with summer-friendly abstractions dotted around somewhat florally. I was also delighted that such well-established artists as Michael Ajerman, Christina Niederberger and Rebecca Meanly – all of whom I’ve admired for some years – had submitted strong pieces which could be seen alongside those new to me: I’d like to see more, for example, of Fabio Almeida’s subtly modulated grid-and-text explorations of how the modern increase in connectivity fails us.

Spending an hour in the space as Darren was hanging the show, the work which grew on me most was Lucie Bennett’s amalgam of organ-like shapes, which delicately touches on abstraction, cartoon, medical diagram and children’s book illustration. It’s a small painting, though, so I thought she might welcome the materials prize!
I also wondered which of those artists who haven’t shown a lot previously at ASC would make for a stimulating solo show here. Three artists appealed particularly: Daniel Rapley, whose painstaking magnification of his son’s scribble drawing is both typical and  atypical of an extremely varied but always exacting conceptual practice; Nigel Grimmer, whose pictures within pictures – one strand of several radical deconstructions of the family photo album -  bring the exotic and the ordinary, the kitsch and the bland, the vintage and the modern into witty dialogue; and Caroline Jane Harris, whose intricate analogue processing of digital sources combines photographic, printmaking, drawing and sculptural processes to explore how we code and screen the world.  It’s hard to choose between such differently engaging bodies of work, so I was happy to pass over to Darren to decide who would be the best fit for ASC’s programme (and he opted for Caroline Jane Harris).  

Installation view with Henry Byrne's lightbox , Lucy Smallbone's 'Somebody's House', Rosalind Barker's graphite mirror relecting both, and one of Rosalind Davis' subtlest uses of thread over oil and acrylic.


In Residence and Window Sill @ the Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham St – Latimer Road

Odilia Suanzes with her Untitled, 2016

Window Sill with Sasha Bowles, Adam Dix and Magda Drwiega

For a group show of artists who just happen to have had a studio at the Griffin Gallery complex, ‘In Residence’ is a surprisingly coherent mix, focused largely on the use of materials, with Thomas Platt’s sculptural puzzle figure plucked from an abstract painting and Odilia Suanzes’ vast graphite overdrawing of would-be-ephemeral traces particularly appealing. Even better is the series of witty riffs on the impromptu displays of kitsch objects in seaside windows, complete with lace curtains, in the project space viewable from outside. That includes several interesting  painters – Adam Dix, Sasha Bowles, Neil Zakiewicz, Darren O’Brien – coming out as sculptors, though in O’Brien’s case his ham sandwich keeps one trotter in the double-sided painting camp.  It’s an entertainingly varied sequence, with pandas, Bismark, a stuffed ermine and Roland Barthes’ love of Crème Caramel all featuring.  

Jane Harris: Doing Time, 2017 on the sill (from 300 slip-cast porcelain pots using plaster moulds taken from Barthes' favourite dessert, Crème Caramel)



Abstract Remix @ New Art Projects, 6D Sheep Lane - Cambridge Heath

To 26 Aug:

Installation with Markus Linnenbrink

Bias alert: this is very like my own 'Show Us Your Process' (nine abstract artists including Jonathan Parsons with an emphasis on methods of making) only bigger and more international. 23 large works across four rooms combine the home gallery's Parsons with guests from the excellent  Taubert Contemporary in Berlin. Markus Linnenbrink shows his poured colours (sometimes cut away to reveal the layers) together with the sculptural result of collecting five years of his drips in a perspex box as he works. Another room shows Beat Zoderer squaring a circle by folding it,  flattening another into something quite other, and using unfolding in his Fold and dip series.. Adrian Esparza unpicks a Serape which takes on a slightly ragged anti-minimalism when woven geometrically between nails on a white wooden framework. Nor are  Joachim Grommek, Jan van der Ploeg, Markus Weggenmann and Parsons himself merely making up the numbers...

Beat Zoderer: Squaring the Circle, 2013 and Ringfaltung #3 (folded ring), 2013

Adrian Esparza: Game Spot, 2014


Gabriel Kuri: Afterthought is Never Binary @ Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly St - Soho

To 19 Aug:

Quick Count 2, 2017 - vacuum formed panels 130 x 133cm

As an accountant who has seen a lot of art, I can testify that – for the best, I suspect - accountancy rarely features in the art. An exception is Gabriel Kuri’s cunning orchestration of clashes between the formal and the functional, the inchoate and the structured, the industrial and the organic, the man-made and the natural. The series of ‘Quick Count’ vacuum formed panels of bean shapes refer to the ‘bean counter’ nickname which we accountants rather dislike – and disrupt that lowly description of the function by falling out of order into disarray. Then there are five steel cubes, their minimalism disturbed by such incursions as a rather realistic rubber lettuce and – in ‘Box for Four’ – rolls of bank notes ready to be counted (or, they being Euros, counted out?).

box for and with, 2017 - stainless steel, rubber, plastic, 63 x 50 x 50cm




Mark Leckey: Affect Bridge Age Regression @ Cubitt Gallery, 8 Angel Mews - Islington

Last year, Turner Prize winning artist and DJ Mark Leckey’s evocative film Dream English Kid 1964 – 1999 explored his childhood and adolescence in Liverpool through a collage of image and music*. Affect Bridge Age Regression intensifies that by using a model of a motorway bridge as a site of childhood experiences, symbol of the early 70’s, link (OK, bridge) between then and now,  and a site of traffic vibration suggesting how formative experiences reverberate through the years.  Posters and sodium lamplight complete the visuals: the soundtrack has a team including Leckey chanting what amounts to an exorcism of the negativity of the era: OUT THIS HOLLOW RESONANCE, VOID OF HOLY IMMANENCE / RELIQUARY OF THE 20TH CENTURY, EMBALMED IN LUCOZADE…

* it can now be seen at Tate Britain


Lisa Yuskavage @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street – Central

Housewarming, 2016 , 203 x 203 cm, oil on linen 

This is ‘art for believers’ – you have to buy into Lisa Yuskavage’s wacky world of 70’s soft porn meets cartoonish distortion meets art history. Once you do, it’s all about painterly experiment and decision-making. The new developments here are more couples, with the ‘emotional formalism’ of colours coding their connectivity (or lack of it) with each other and their surroundings; the use of multi-coloured grounds to signal transformation (as in the renaissance use of cangiante rainbows for angel’s wings) or of flesh ground to represent flesh so that, it might be said, the naked body is the most naked part of the painting; and greater variation than before in the degree of orthodox ‘finish’ within a painting.

Ludlow Street, 2017, 196 x 165 cm, oil on linen


Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975 @ Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row - Central

To 29 July:

Late Guston – the work produced 1970-80 following his controversial shift away from abstraction, can seem the go-to influence for every young painter. It’s remarkable, then, to find a 250-strong body of work from that period which has hardly been seen. What’s more Guston’s savage critique of Nixon-the-dickhead’s various shenanigans couldn’t be more timely in the all-too-comparable context of the 45th President. The bulk of these drawings, styled as cartoon-strip but also feeding the paintings, are from a three month blitz in1971, with a separate 1975 group lampooning Nixon’s self-pity while suffering from phlebitis during his political and physical descent, having resigned in 1974.


Bridgette Ashton and Nicole Mollet: Only The World Remains @ Space Station 65, 373 Kennington Road - Kennington / Oval 

Installation view with Bridgette Ashton: A Summerhouse for George Howard, 2006 and Model for Banqueting Hall Cavern, 2014

Artist-run Space Station 65 has reopened with a teeming evocation of staged landscapes through such past eccentricities as grottoes, follies and pleasure gardens of which – in Diderot's phrase - ‘only the world remains’. Bridgette Ashton fills most of the space with what look like architectural models for future projects, but imagine how what has now disappeared might once have been planned, for example a summer house encrusted with seashells, and a concert hall built into a cave. Nicole Mollett amplifies the mood through painted and magic lantern slides and projections depicting imaginary creatures and features and evocative words - which chime with a further contribution from Ashton: posters announcing imaginary past events. The regaining of lost innocence rubs up against the inevitability of our demise.  

Nicole Mollett: The Triumph of Time and Truth (Star Illuminant); Rustic Pissing Portal, The Triumph of Time and Truth (Goodnight) and Rock Folly – all paint on glass, 2017


Alastair Gordon & Hugh Mendes: Remains @ Charlie Smith, 336 Old Street, 2nd Floor - Shoreditch

Charlie Smith’s small backroom has been upgraded to ‘project space’ status, more than justified by this tri-dyptich combination of two painters who post-modernise Trompe-l'œil. Paint is paint as Hugh Mendes, known for his obituary paintings, continues his series imagining the use of artist’s self-portraits to memorialise them, and Alastair Gordon documents / re-imagines the studio walls of the artists as the self-portrait was being made. We can read the walls as collateral results of the act of painting and as an extension of the portrait form: Bacon becomes an abstractionist in spite of himself; Craigie Aitchion’s wall is his favourite pink; Michael Andrews pins his study from Giacometti to the wall. Ah yes, Giacometti…



 ] [ @ Annka Kultys, 472 Hackney Road – Cambridge Heath

To 29 July:

Installation view with Jimmy Merris, Gabriele Beveridge,  Jean-Luc Moulène prominent

With so much work now viewed online rather than in the gallery, curator and commercial photographer of installations Damian Griffiths has taken the logical step of setting up the show in order to allow optimal photo-documentation from a fixed position camera rather than hang the show to suit the gallery then figure out how best to photograph it.  Plus it’s an evolving show in which photos of previous iterations will be shown. All very interesting, though actually the show looks pretty normal! It’s primary appeal is the quality of work tending to deconstruct the body, and hence physical presence, including Martin Creed wondering what the fuck he’s doing, one of Jean-Luc Moulène’s spooky heads made by filling a carnival balloon with concrete, a particularly witty Richard Wentworth street photo, and a shudder-crawling mass of animatronic heads from Jimmy Merris.

Installation view with Martin Creed, Dustin Ericksen and Ivana Basic prominent


Colour, Order, System @ Sid Motion Gallery, 142 York Way - King's Cross - to 28 July:

Cross Section / 04 @ dalla Rosa Gallery,
3 Leighton Place – Kentish Farm - to 29 July:


Roland Hicks: OSB 12 (On southern beaches), 2017 - gouache, coloured pencil, coloured paper on plywood panel, 23x30cm

Roland Hicks features in both of these interesting shows with witty paintings and sculptures in which the painting collapses into its ground and things are not quite as you might assume: what looks like plywood in Occupy Some Buildings, for example, is scrupulously so painted, and what looks like paint is collaged crayon on paper. Hicks’ titles add to the play, most of them suggesting what might be read into the apparent abstractions by words with the initials OBR. At Sid Motion, behind a window light adjusted by Fiona Grady's overlay, Hicks' work hides among comparable-looking paintings by Sue Kennington and Richie Culver which are what they seem. At dalla Rosa his is one of three miniature worlds of their own. Catrin Morgan’s tiny notebooks abstract elements from the history of art: buildings held by saints, for example, or their wounds (as in the smile/gash below), Tom Hackney makes delicate ink drawings of Duchamp’s own notations of his chess games, in the black, blue and red pen colours he used in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Tom Hackney: Notation Drawing 6 (Duchamp vs. Lilienthal, Folkestone, 1933), 2017 - pigment ink on paper, 34 x 34 cm

Catrin Morgan: page from Life Notebook #4: Holes, 2017 - pencil on paper on panel, 17 x 21  cm

Roland Hicks: OSB 16 (Occupy Some Buildings), 2017 - gouache, coloured pencil, coloured paper on plywood panel, 20 x 25 cm 


You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred and Zabludowicz Collection Invites Bea Bonafini @ the Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Rd – Chalk Farm

 Lucas Blalock: Gaba with Fans, 2012

Paul Luckraft curates an impressive double bill at the Zabludowicz Collection. In the main space, fourteen artists use the indexical image as a mere starting point for their representation of the world, be that through appropriation, staging or manipulation. Lucas Blalock, for example, might be seen as a Brechtian user of Photoshop, making it a visible part of how he ‘depicts’ an oddball choice of subjects. In the project room, Bea Bonafini is the latest young artist to feature in the Collection’s ‘Invites’ series. Riffing on the building’s transition from religious to museological authority, she triple-tweaks hierarchical powerbases with a tapestry-come-carpet derived from battle scenes, a painting of an imagined chapel for non-believers, and a throne too spindly to support power viably.  

Installation view of Dovetail's Nest, 2017 (Photo Tim Bowditch)


Sigrid Holmwood: The Peasants Are Revolting!  & Prunella Clough @ Annely Juda Fine Art
3rd & 4th  Floors, 23 Dering Street – central 

To 8 July:


Sigrid Holmwood: Peasants fighting with scythes, 2017 - Mayan blue made from woad, ink, and gesso, on calico mordant printed and dyed with dyer’s broom, buckthorn berries, and logwood, on board, 120 x 185 cm

Sigrid Holmwood’s historico-conceptual paintings adopt the peasant as both subject and carrier of attitudes which run counter to the modernist mainstream. Part of that rebellion is against industrialised production, and so Holmwood displays the making of cochineal (from insect-infected catci) and Mayan blue (from the European indigo-producing plant, woad, so adding a colonialist reversal into the mix). The making of the paintings largely creates their subjects, which loop round on themselves with cheerful energy, as in this dance-come-fight with scythes. Add that, upstirs, there’s a reliably stimulating pick ‘n’ mix from across the career of Prunella Clough upstairs, and that Ronchini and Vigo have good shows just now, and Dering Street is well worth a visit…


Prunella Clough: Waterweed 6, 1988 - oil and string on board, 32 x 38 cm




Searching for magic and the distorted image falling from your iCloud @ The Dot Project, 94 Fulham Rd - South Kensington

To 9 July:

Konrad Wyrebek: KKKRInkOMan, 2016-2017
Oil and acrylic paint, uv ink, spray paint and varnish on canvas 200 × 150 cm

There have been quite a few shows exploring the interface between painting and  the online world painting, but this one is better than most. That’s because most of the 13 artists' works meets the simple-sounding but eminently missable criteria of working as paintings, having some digital content, and relating the two in an illuminating way – and with he processes explained to the viewer. For example, in a contrast grounded in similarity. Konrad Wyrebek shows a ‘Data Error’ paintings, this one from an image of someone jumping into water, which Wyrebek corrupts until it reaches a point he wishes to paint from; and Siebren Versteeg creates algorithmic programs that respond to and distort online imagery, then presents the (unpainted) results as painterly abstractions. Derek Mainella, Gordon Cheung, Kristian Touborg and Ry David Bradley are also excellent…

Siebren Versteeg:  Quavers, 2016:_Algorithmically generated image printed on canvas resin, 84x56.


Vicky Wright: Night Shift @ Josh Lilley Gallery, 44-46 Riding House St - Fitzrovia

To 4 July:

 LET IT BE MADE, 2017, Oil and natural gesso with geological   mica on linen over aluminium panel. 119 x 85cm

Vicky Wright's work has always been socially engaged, one sign of which has previously been her preference for painting on the reverse of panels as the site of the back story’s alterity. Here she paints on canvas with a directness suiting her subject: portraits inspired by her grandmother, a seamstress who worked in the mill by day and - inspired by the world of high couture - on dressmaking by night,. Wright sees that compacting of her grandmother's time as precluding today's more technological colonisation of the body. She calls their style 'calcified pop', though there's also plenty of cubist collage in the juicy mix.

 DOPPLER-EFFECT, 2017, Oil and natural gesso with geological mica on linen over aluminium panel. 119 x 85cm 


THE HIGH LOW SHOW at Laure Genillard Gallery,
2 Hanway Place - Tottenham Court Rd 

To 24 June:

Kate MccGwire: Sentient, 2016 - Mixed media with goose feathers in bespoke cabinet

The High Low Show is a site-responsive adventure in contrasts and connections. Each of seven artists have work upstairs and downstairs in Laure Genillard's distinctively divided space. Each artist's work operates between registers of high and low, including altitude, viewpoint, mood, value and cultural register. Bronwen Buckeridge, Susan Collis, Sara Haq, Tom Lovelace, Kate MccGwire, Sarah Roberts and Julie Verhoeven  all rise impressively to my simple curatorial brief  with nary an unintended pratfall. Kate, for example, shows feather sculptures above and drawings made by maggots below - not without duality, as there is a sinister edge to the convolutions of Sentient...

Kate MccGwire: Vermiculus, 2016 - graphite on paper


Sara Barker: a weak spot in the earth @ The approach

hour-watching silver and exact 
water is in water
within within within
2017 - aluminium sheet, mirrored steel, stainless steel rod, automotive paint

Glasgow based Sarah Barker has typically played literary inspirations – Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein come to mind - into her fusions of painting and sculpture. They charateristically start with paintings  which she - usually, but not always - cuts into narrow strips which are combined with  metal rods to make three dimensional structures. Now Barker writes a poem of her own which operates like a chain of haiku to provide seemingly imagistic yet elusive titles for six of these conjunctions of border lines, viewing templates and landscape settings which suggest nature framed and excerpted. The key dynamic is between the preciousness with which her process flirts, and the formal invention which negates the risk.  

conjunctions, eclipses, oppositions, 2017 
- aluminium rod & sheet, canvas, oil paint, jesmonite


Paul Johnson: Teardrop Centre @ Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road - Camden

 To 18 June:

Whereas the chaos of Francis Bacon’s studio was reconstructed in identical disorder in Dublin, Paul Johnson has made what looks at first like chaos by shifting what may well have been his fairly tidy studio into Camden Arts Centre.  On closer examination, aided by Johnson’s own 40-feature map of the room, it turns out that all is very fully considered: he has variously cut, cast, re-oriented, combined and layered items, using the contents of his studio as raw materials for discovery as – or transformation into - art. Walls become a table, crates form a sculptural barrier, a door stands islanded... As he oversees the scene in the form of a 'Stack-Man' made from piled newspapers, Johnson must be pleased with how this rejig has turned out - the more so as he’s paired with veteran Romanian avant-gardist Geta Brătescu making the most of her studio in the other galleries.


Peter Dreher: Day by Day, Good Day at The Mayor Gallery, 21 Cork St – Central

Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day good Day) Nr. 1637 (Day), 2001
Oil on linen, 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Peter Dreher is famous for having painted the same empty water glass over 5,000 times. I say famous, but ‘Day by Day, Good Day’ has been little-seen in London. Here are 58 examples from 1991-2011, sequenced day-night-day-night. The strongest contrasts are between sunny and cloudy days, but all 58 demonstrate Dreher’s exceptional praxical capacity to remain invested in the painting for itself, regardless of subject even, as he regards the glass and its reflections intensely. Obsessive? Oddly, I think not: he has other streams of work, and comes across as more akin to a daily jogger than a monomaniac, though at 83, he’s now too frail to jog.

Night - Day - Night sequence


Athena Papadopoulos: The Smurfette @ Emalin, Unit 4, Huntingdon estate, Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch

Installation view
A love of stains and excess characterises London-based Greek-Canadian Athena Papadopoulos's bedsheet-like transfer collages, dense with scrawled overwriting. They’re the backdrop for coat stands as figures (is that a dig at Allen Jones’ Hatstand?), their several legs shod in concrete platform shoes, dripping with jewellery and so much other stuff that 35 materials are listed for CHEWED UP. That, like the other four 'Smurfettes' which occupy the gallery together with three child-sized versions, carries stuffed letters which spell out the title and seem to indicate that language, as well as attitudes, lies behind the construction of such assertively abject selves. So, we wonder, is Papadopoulos a smurfette?


Detail of Smurfette,CHEWED UP, 2017 - wood dowels, screws, glue, antlers, self-tanner, synthetic hair, taxidermy insects,jewellery chain, wire, pigmented polyester resin, freeze dried worms, crustaceans andfish, crows feet with nail polish, confetti, bird feathers, taxidermy bird, image transfers,hair dye, lipstick on fabric and wool, lingerie, dyed fur, trimmings and thread, Pepto Bismol, Berocca, red wine, Malox, Gaviscon, foundation and bleach on carpet, auto-body paint and clear lacquer on pigmented concrete - 216 x 110 x 120 cm  


Alberto Giacometti, Suspended Ball (1930-1931). Plaster and metal. Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris at Tate Modern

Giacometti and Picasso are dominant just now, and Photo London and Peckham 24 are coming up - but there's plenty else...

Pablo Picasso: Minotaure dans une barque sauvant une femme (1937) at Gagosian. Photo: Eric Baudouin
Garth Weiser @ Simon Lee, 12 Berkeley St - Green Park

To 27 May:

Detail from '10', 2017
 I’ve been following Garth Weiser (say ‘Vyza’) for ten years now, but this is his first substantial UK showing for his multi-layered, digitally-aware immersively-scaled  but somewhat unphotographable abstractions.  You could say that every canvas is actually three paintings struggling to co-exist: a figurative underpainting – currently somewhat comic – an expressive abstract painting, and a geometric overlay. Such complexity is hard-won: Weiser lays strips of tape in patterns on top of the figurative ground,(adding rope in some recent works)  covers the whole with oil paint, removes the paint while the tape is still wet (accepting or rejecting accidental bleeds and drips to taste) and cuts into the remainder with a razor blade.  Result: an alluring all-over flicker between oppositions. If you could jam Picabia’s transparencies, Stella’s stripes and Richter’s overpainted photographs together, you’d be pretty-much there.

'10', 2017 - 244 x 201 cm


Paola PiviYou Don't Have to Believe Me @ Massimo De Carlo, 55 South Audley St - Mayfair                           

To May 27:

 Here are two polar bears made of feathers, and Duchamp for kids: a dozen spinning bicycle wheels with feathers attached merge his readymade and rotary phases. But both are parodies of flight and, downstairs, any innocent view of the world - as captured on 52 screens through 40,000 images culled from google searches - is undermined by a soundtrack of spoken lies (‘in the middle ages, kings only ate at night’, ‘catfish are mammals’, ‘the largest statue in the world is of Michael Jackson’…). Would we hear about Father Christmas? No, but upstairs ungainly drawings are blown up big time to tell of Pivi and her husband’s four year custody battle for their adopted son. They won, but the darkening still seeps.

I am a professional bear, 2017 - urethane foam, plastic, feathers


William Mackrell: Hold Up @ The Ryder, 19a Herald St - Bethnal Green

To  27 May: 

Installation view with Interruption and Convulsive Repulse.

'Hold Up' enacts a round of bodily vulnerabilities and frustrations against the threatening backdrops of authority and non-existence.  A bank of malfunctioning fluorescent tubes splutter noisily into intermittent non-death. A performer lies* on a flickeringly illumined shelf, also made with lighting fixtures, emitting her inner response to its pulses. A record plays, but displaces to the back room, a collage of purgatorial call centre music. The redacted part of a Diane Arbus photograph (censored on entry into the United Arab Emirates) is made stark through the veiling of the remaining image by subtly stippling it with a scalpel. All feels connected, but somewhere just out of rational grasp.

* Performance runs every Saturday, 2-6pm

Cover Up (Stripper with Bare Breasts), 2016


Annette Messager: Avec et Sans Reasons @ Marin Goodman Gallery, 5-8 Lower John St – Soho

Tututerus, 2017  Black tutu, fabric, paint, rope, rod, fan - with uterus wallpaper

Annette Messager’s agreeably wild show packs more than 50 works, many of them multi-part, into the downstairs galleries (leaving Sol Lewitt wall drawings to run on upstairs). Snails wear breasts for shells; a uterus dances in a tutu in room with fallopian wallpaper; Pinochio gets caught up in his viscera… yet gloves, with pencils for fingers, outline calm geometries. The title poses the question: is Messager with it, or not? I’m not sure it matters  for the purposes of enjoying the show, but you should behave yourself: 68 pictograms from round the world forbid pissing, tattoos, photography, music and driving in a burkha. On the other hand, 69thly, interdictions are themselves banned, so do as you wish…


Detail from Les Interdictions (The Interdictions), 2014 68 framed drawings + 1 frame, color pencils, 15 soft elements, fabric

Athena Papadopoulos: The Smurfette @ Emalin, Unit 4, Huntingdon estate, Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch

Installation view

A love of stains and excess characterises London-based Greek-Canadian Athena Papadopoulos's bedsheet-like transfer collages, dense with scrawled overwriting. They’re the backdrop for coat stands as figures (is that a dig at Allen Jones’ Hatstand?), their several legs shod in concrete platform shoes, dripping with jewellery and so much other stuff that 35 materials are listed for CHEWED UP. That, like the other four 'Smurfettes' which occupy the gallery together with three child-sized versions, carries stuffed letters which spell out the title and seem to indicate that language, as well as attitudes, lies behind the construction of such assertively abject selves. So, we wonder, is Papadopoulos a smurfette?


Detail of Smurfette,CHEWED UP, 2017 - wood dowels, screws, glue, antlers, self-tanner, synthetic hair, taxidermy insects,jewellery chain, wire, pigmented polyester resin, freeze dried worms, crustaceans andfish, crows feet with nail polish, confetti, bird feathers, taxidermy bird, image transfers,hair dye, lipstick on fabric and wool, lingerie, dyed fur, trimmings and thread, Pepto Bismol, Berocca, red wine, Malox, Gaviscon, foundation and bleach on carpet, auto-body paint and clear lacquer on pigmented concrete - 216 x 110 x 120 cm  

Elger Esser: Morgenland  @ Parasol unit, Wharf Rd - Hoxton 

Salwa Bahry I (detail), Egypt, 2011. C-print, Diasec, 97 x 124 cm

The key to German Elger Esser’s photographs of conflicted territories which appear ‘too quiet’, in the classic Wayne-spoken formulation of the American Western, is his perfect pitch. That brings just the right degree of implication to modest-sounding proposals: ‘fake an archive of views from Israel / Palestine in 1948’;  ‘make big modern photos of Lebanon and the Nile look like fading postcards’; ‘ask another artist to complement your travelogue with paintings of local orchids’ and, best of all, 'show either side of a border view printed on either side of a sculpturally propped sheet of copper’. 

Installation view with 'One Sky' series centre: Photography by Ben Westoby, Courtesy of Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
George Rickey: Sculpture from the Estate & Sarah Braman: Here @ Marlborough & Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle St - Central
To May 20 (Rickey) / May 27 (Braman):

George Rickey: Column of Six Cubes with Gimbal, 1996 - Stainless steel, polychrome 83 x 32 x 32 in.

Marlborough has two outstanding sculptural shows by American artists. Downstairs are the elegant kinetics of George Rickey (1907-2002), all powered with expert calibration by the odd ceiling fan: not just his gleaming geometrical transformations, but a wild carrot and a sample of his more painterly late style - the  rotating coloured cubes of which  link seamlessly to the language of Sarah Braman upstairs. Her radical combinations of high art and vernacular, natural and fabricated, industrial and organic elements fuse, for example, tinted glass and welded cubes of steel with salvaged doors and rough-hewn tree stumps (she’s really enjoying a new chainsaw, she says). They include this fantastical parody of a bookcase, which is fully usable - but for just the one book.

Sarah Braman: Learning to Read, 2017, found chair, wood, fabric dye, acrylic paint, book, 49x49x42in.


Katarina Rankovic: ‘Vernacular Spectacular’ in Xhibit 2007 at Art Bermondsey Project Space, 183-185 Bermondsey St – Bermondsey

The Widow

There are obvious and less obvious reasons to visit Bermondsey at present: Larry Bell’s sculptural rooms of glass at White Cube, David Batchelor’s first wall paintings at Matt’s, Waltercio Caldas’ resonant precision at Cecelia Brunson Projects, Anita Klein’s joyous linocuts at Eames, a delightfully sharp survey of the ‘Eccentric Geometric’ at ARTHOUSE1…  There’s also a showcase for 32 University of the Arts London students, of which one would expect less. Yet several interesting works feature across three levels, and the basement includes a showreel of films by Katarina Rankovic which piqued my interest as much as anything in the area. Her practice, which she describes as a ‘one woman empathy circus’, sees her adapt her appearance, accent and manner to a range of characters in short monologues. They are knowingly theatrical yet convincing, astutely witty, and carry their sub-texts about the construction of the self and the making of art with a natural ease.   Go there or – as there isn’t long left – to

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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.