Wednesday, 1 August 2018


August sees reduced action: Picasso at Tate Modern and Abts at the Serpentine are the obvious top shows, but there are some others... 

Sinta Tantra: Your Private Sky @ Kristin Hjellegjerde - Wandsworth

To 1 Sept

Do You Wanna Funk With Me? II (Sylvester) , 2018 - Tempera on linen, 150 x 150 cm

Sinta Tantra's work has often featured hot Balinese colours, but that's only true of half her new show, not that she hold back with the vibrant patterns spilling onto the floor. But she has also introduced more linear works in which she restricts herself to brushed brass, raw linen and the white of tempera in adopting an aspect of the blueprint in musing on Buckminster Fuller's 'Your Private Sky' - the 1948 manuscript in which Fuller outlined his visionary design for a glass geodesic structure. Add several sculptural elements, and this a notably varied presentation of inspirational geometries.

Your Sky May Be Surfaced Inside (Buckminster Fuller) , 2018 - Tempera on Linen,  120 x 100 cm


Bomberg @ Ben Uri Gallery, 108a Boundary Rd - St John's Wood
To 16 Sept

Racehorses, 1913

The Ben Uri Gallery  is somewhat under-appreciated. Certainly the current survey of David Bomberg is excellent: a national touring show featuring plenty from the gallery’s own collection. That includes ‘Racehorses’, 1913, a black chalk masterpiece of Bomberg’s vorticist style in which I find it takes a while to ‘see’ how the race operates from left to right and make out the spectators talking to bookies in the foreground – but then it all clicks dynamically into place.The later Bomberg is appreciated most for self-portraits and foreign landscapes in which precisely simplified architecture meets light to reveal what he termed ‘the spirit in the mass’. ‘Cathedral, Toledo’ 1929 is typical.  ‘You must remember’, teased Bomberg,‘I was a poor boy from the East End and I’d never seen the sun before’.

Cathedral, Toledo, 1929


Luiz Zerbini: Intuitive Ratio @ South London Gallery

To 19 Aug 2018

Detail from Concrete Jungle, 2011
Luiz Zerbini is essentially a painter who feeds off day-today observations of Rio de Janeiro, but his practice expands to cover membership of the performative collective Chelpa Ferro, and this ten year survey show includes a ‘3D painting’ / sculptural installation, monoprints made directly from plants, and films of Brazilian landscapes. A glitch in one of the films added coloured squares which Zerbini then adopted as a motif in his paintings, serendipitously linking that to tiling and architecture in his dense combination of natural and manmade. The whole makes for a rich account balanced between psycho-geography and aesthetics, as well as between intuitive and rational.

Still from Sertão, 2009 - colourful reflections in a river with added glitch colours.

Yuko Mori: Voluta and Peter Fraser: Mathematics @ Camden Arts Centre 

To 16 Sept 

Seasonal light on two Untitled images from Mathematics - chairs and a thinker.

Camden’s latest pairing is of Peter Fraser’s saturated photographs with Yoko Mohri’s cutely contingent orchestration of objects. Is there a connection?  Maybe, if you see the Japanese artist’s way with fish, spoons, bells and percussive Venetian blinds as a model of our thoughts pinging round our brains. For Fraser’s untitled photographs form the project ‘Mathematics’, which show (i) scenes which remind him of how maths underlies reality and (ii) portraits of people asked to imagine that something they had long held to be true had just been proved false. So both can be related, but abstractly, to thought: for we can’t see what Fraser’s subjects are thinking, and pretty much any items might have illustrated the metaphysics of maths, given it’s attributed to everything.  Both shows prove to be metaphysically knowing in a wryly amusing way.

A spoon prepares to play a bell in Voluta


Dialogues with a Collection @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court Rd

To 16 Sept

Lucy Heyward: Face Up Face Down, 1998

The premise for Laure Genillard’s new show sounds a tricky one to pull off: ask 11 artists to show their own work as complement to one of the works she has in her own collection. It turns out, though, that the original works, the new works, the pairings, and the precise explantory texts supplied come together beautifully. Highlights include Gerhard Lang’s ‘visus signatus’ (unsighted) drawing of clouds alongside their meteorological data in response to Frank Heath’s penetratingly funny project of inscribing computer back up in laser cut form; Sarah Staton’s updating of the language in Stephen Willats’ 1960’s rearrangable clothing with text (‘poor / rich / sick…’) with categories from 2018 (‘pangender / neurodivergent / aromantic…’) and Lucy Heyward's 'Face Up Face Down', which seems to derive some sort of merger of sex and forensic anthropology from the attractively tweaked logic of displaying a photogram of a plate-stand on that very plate-stand as if it were itself a plate.. Laure also has as a good a Tomma Abts as you’ll find at the Serpentine…
Tomma Abts: Zerka, 2015

Caroline Jane Harris: A Bright Haunting @ ASC Gallery, Taplow House, Thurlow Street - Elephant & Castle (to 10 Aug) and Superimposition @ Partners & Mucciaccia, 45 Dover St - Mayfair (to 31 Aug)

Caroline Jane Harris: Shroud, 2018 - hand-cut archival pigment print, 130 x 100cm

I’d better start with a double bias-alert. I chose Caroline Jane Harris as winner of a solo show at ASC Gallery; and I helped write the text for the rather substantial catalogue of Catherine Loewe and Michael Stubbs' curation. All the same, here are two excellent shows which investigate the nature of image-making today. 

Caroline Jane Harris: Monolith II (detail) 2017–18 - white pencil rubbing on archival Kozo pigment print, 112 x 66cm

Harris uses all manner of technical processes to expose and work through the digital aspects of such quotidian views as clouds seen through a window, which becomes the screen of post-production. The intricately beautiful results emerge not as a critique of any truth attributed to  analogue indexicality, but (to quote Jon K. Shaw's catalogue essay) as ‘an affirmation of the visual mysteries of the everyday’. 

Paul Morrison: Pyxide, 2010 - gold leaf and acrylic on linen, 72 x 54 cm

The superimposition in 'Superimposition' can be seen various ways: Barry Reigate mixes modes over each other – carton, graffiti, abstraction. Mark Titchner imposes language on pattern to baroque effect. Michael Stubbs obscures graphic signs with abstract overlays. Paul Morrison ruptures space by combining different scales and sources within the same pictorial space – an implied planar superimposition. All of which suggests the digital overlaps of the screen without using its technologies directly, and makes for a highly stimulating conversation of contrasting yet related voices. 

Mark Titchner: Up, 2012 - carved wood and imitation gold leaf, 141 x 141 x 10cm     

Pablo Picasso: Woman on the Beach, 1932
Carol Bove @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton St – Mayfair
To 3 Aug
May, 2018

Some of Carol Bove’s best known work uses peacock feathers, quite an apparent contrast with the big all-metal collages here, which she makes ‘in the air’ using a robust system of hoists, jacks and harnesses. Yet – perhaps due to that – there’s a lightness to Bove’s combinations which she says she ‘imagines fast’, as if working in clay. The results are compelling. Partly due to the interplay of rusty found steel, manipulated and then powder coated steel tubing, and highly polished steel discs. Partly due to the superbly orchestrated ‘abstract narrative’ (if I can be allowed the term) which unfolds over the two floors. 
View with Nike I and Nike II, 2018

Aki Sasamoto: Clothes Line @ White Rainbow 47 Mortimer St - Fitzrovia

To 4 Aug (Tues-Fri 11-7)

Sasamoto making a performative drawing at the opening

I wasn’t surprised when New York based Japanese artist Aki Sasamoto told me she has experience as a stand-up comic. Her practice centres on wry dialogues delivered in a Japanese accent as delightful as Laure Prouvost’s French, all the while making drawings to illustrate her points. At White Rainbow You can see the drawn result of her London performance alongside films of her actions and resulting drawings from three further performance projects in America. To give you a flavour, one starting point is to contrast the detailed view of the dung beetle with the broad sweep of a bird. What kind of life do you want? One which includes this show would be a sensible start…

Sasamoto in dung beetle mode in the film Yield Point

Rafal Zajko: Jaka praca dziś - takie nasze jutro and Jutro @ Castor Projects, Resolution Way, Deptford

To 4 Aug

Anna Perach: The Red House Lord, 2018 - hand and gun tufting, artificial hair and yarn, 140 x 115 cm

Now is the time to visit Deptford, as Andy Wicks is expanding from one of the enclaves at Resolution Way to take Castor into two - but for a while he has all three. The old space contains Rafal Zajko's solo show, which sees him move from a performance-based practice to an emphasis on sculptural forms derived from public art in his native Poland, but retaining a performative element: inserted ice melts, cracks and falls; visitors have the chance to add chewing gum. The new double unit holds a group show which elegantly plays wall-based sculptures off against each other, curated by Zajko together with Wicks and introducing some fresh Eastern European voices. 

The work of today – determines our tomorrow

Rafal Zajko: Technological Reliquary I (Current), 2018: Jesmonite, embroidery, steel, push button, ice 80 x 50 x 4.5 cm


Richard Woods: The Ideal Home Exhibition @ Alan Cristea Gallery, 43 Pall Mall  - central

To 31 July

House with Solar Panels, 2018

At last year’s Folkestone triennial Richard Woods came across the illogical combination of houses being sold as second homes because the locals couldn’t afford to buy them as their only residence.  That – in the form of implausibly colourful model ‘holiday homes’ - is the starting point for a rich mix of ideas bringing the housing market to Woods’ characteristic modes. Fashionable cellar extensions and solar panels are mocked. Eight prints of ‘Dream Homes’ refer to the somewhat double-edged compliments of estate agents: does ‘mature garden’ mean it's overgrown, does ‘potential to convert’ indicate it's currently uninhabitable? Another set converts Woods’ famous wood effect prints – by rotation, cropping and minimal intervention – into ‘handheld landscapes’, ie views of plots of ground to be sold. 

Handheld Landscape (51 acres), 2018 - Acrylic on birch plywood, 27 x 20 cm

Summer is traditionally the time for group shows, typically combining gallery artists with a sprinkling of guests and tied to a theme which suits a fairly light curatorial touch. That can become formulaic, but it’s not necessarily a bad formula. Timothy Taylor, Simon Lee have good examples and White Cube a grand version. 


Mask @ Kamel Mennour, 51 Brook Street – Mayfair

To 28 July

Installation view including François (left), Rondinone (centre) and Halilaj (right)
An obvious enough theme avoids the obvious: Nobuyoshi Araki shows half-face, half-flower collages of what were previously two separate streams of work to propose 'a still life which masks the psychosexual desire of the Japanese people'; Petrit Halilaj’s ‘Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it’s night’ is a moth; Michel François half-masks his then-wife Ann Veronica Janssens with a white liquid dip; Alberto García‑Alix photographs himself as partially self-masked - and so on, with 13 artists in all… True, Ugo Rondinone appropriates the look of an African tribal mask, but that winks at us, conspiratorially. 

Araki collage

Mute @ Amanda Wilkinson, 18 Brewer St - Soho and Elizabeth Price: txtʃərz   at Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Rd - South Bank (to 14 July including Art Night)

Derek Jarman: Household God III (Wagner), 1989

‘Mute’ is, quite simply but originally, a series of works which keep themselves quiet in various ways. Angela Bulloch’s ‘On/Off Line Drawing Machine’, 1991, allows itself hardly any expressive capacity as it proceeds to build up a horizontal. Derek Jarman decapitated the busts of several composers, replacing their implied music with rocks or objects found near Dungeoness. France Alys provides a delicately hesistant drawn gesture. Jimmy Desana’s figures are gagged. Isa Genzken’s radio is concrete.

An offsite extension to Elizabeth Price’s new film at the Morley Gallery is very much on track: in her trademark ‘archive with disco’ style, she presents the 6 minute story of a strike-of-sorts through which the governing committees of universities and museums opt for wordlessness in – it would seem – the face of increasing corporatisation of those institutions. The only visuals are collaged video clips of magazine clippings showing long dresses as worn by models c. 1960-80: on the one hand summoning better days for academic freedom from commerce, on the other referencing hoe the dresses’ models had to pose for the purpose of display, rather like a lecturer ticking inspectorial boxes. 
Elizabeth Price: still from txtʃərz


Family Values: Polish Photography Now @ Calvert 22 Foundation, 22 Calvert Avenue – Shoreditch

To 22 July

From Zofia Rydet's Sociological Record

At the core of this show, despite its subtitle, are two stunning long-term series from the last century.  Zofia Rydet made an amazing 20,000 images of Poles in their homes for her Sociological Record (1978-90) – detailed orchestrations at a rate of five per day from age 67 to her death! Film maker Józef Robakowski, banned from exhibiting his work, turned to the apolitically personal, albeit with the texture of surveillance, as a way of protesting obliquely at collectivist ideology. From My Window (1978-2000) is just that: the neighbourhood’s coming and goings to a commentary which stresses their personalities just as it transmits Rabakowski’s. There are also four recent projects in the show. Remarkably, they assert themselves successfully in the context of the older work, especially Aneta Grzeszykowska’s Negative Book and Aneta Bartos’ startling dual portraits of herself with her bodybuilder father. 

From Aneta Grzeszykowska’s Negative Book 


Katharina Grosse: Prototypes of Imagination @ Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street to 27 July; Bernard Frize: Blackout in the Grid @ Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley St to 30 June;  Juan Uslé: Open Night @ Frith Street, Golden Square to 23 June; Cipriano Martinez: Displacement @ Maddox Arts, 52 Brook's Mews

Katharina Grosse: Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 265 × 175 cm

If you're attracted to harmless list-making, you might consider who are the dozen top abstract painters in the world: there's no right and wrong, of course, and I may have forgotten someone obvious, but a plausible group seems to me Gerhard Richter, Bernard Frize, Bridget Riley, Katharina Grosse, Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl, Juan Uslé, Robert Ryman, Beatriz Milhazes, Sean Scully, Tomma Abts and Ding Yi. In which case London is well served, as Milhazes (see below) Grosse, Frize and Uslé have wonderful shows on now, and Tomma Abts is next up at the Serpentine. Moreover, a ten year survey of Cipriano Martinez's  politcally charged deconstructions of architectural geometry in Caracas and London emphasises the variety of means he has brought to a tight thematic focus, and makes for a worthy 10th anniversary show at Maddox Arts.  Come to that, Richter has an impressive presence in Southampton, which isn't so far away. Grosse uses scale to thrilling effect, Frize does what only he can do to the grid, and Uslé brings us something of the night. 


Bernard Frize: Wir, 2018
Acrylic and resin on canvas 250 x 215 cm 


Beatriz Milhazes: Rio Azul @ White Cube Bermondsey

To 2 July

Installation image Ollie Hammick

There’s everything in this exuberant show: big paintings, and even bigger tapestry, collage, hanging sculptural combinations of found objects, and stage set and opening performances by her sister's dance troupe (a little is here). One way of looking at the show would be as a rebooting of  the Manifesto Antropófago published in 1928 by  Oswald de Andrade, for that proposed that European influences should be 'cannibalised' - chewed up and digested to emerge in a South American form - and Milhazes definitely integrates a tropical and carnival aspect into European modernist tropes. This show is particularly heavy on circles, and there’s a contrast between the dazzling intricacy of their intersections in most of the work and the comparative simplification which emerges from the weaving process. 

As irmãs em azul celeste, 2015-2018 - Collage on paper
86.5 x 76 cm, Photo: Manuel guas 


Lea Cetera: Expanding Brain @ Southard Reid - 7 Royalty Mews, Soho

To 30 June 2018

Installation view

Shows about identity politics can get heavy handed, so Lea Cetera’s light touch is welcome here. The central work is a 15 minute ‘artist interview’ in which we see an artist - identified by number, hooded like an assassin, voice disguised – answer questions about her practice and background. She complains when asked how race informs her work on the basis that a white artist wouldn’t have been asked that, yet the show is largely about that, as well as what the interviewee says her work is about: on the one hand, mockingly, ‘it’s about everything, it’s about nothing’, on the other hand it’s about ‘the psychological spaces we construct and operate within’. The rest of the show features hyper-real sculptures of quotidian items (coffee cups and suchi are favourites) with emails integrated to indicate how the artist’s everyday experience is informed by the nature of art and identity. This is all within the pretended parameters of a progression chart which the Filipino New Yorker found online, showing how to accept then go beyond the role of ‘artist of colour’ to make work about 'whatever the fuck you want'. 
Cup Construction, 2018 - plywood, formica, resin, porcelain, acrylic


Brian Bress: Another Fine Mess @ Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House Street – Fitzrovia

To 27 June

Sunset Peacock (cutout), 2018 - 140 x 76cm

American artist Brian Bress puts the fine into what’s far from a mess with the most formally innovative show in London. On entering, you wonder ‘what is this?’ Several canvases curl down in curiously attractive tatters from being cut away with a knife.  Down in the main space you find that those paintings were the main part of stage sets to make films in which canvas and screen converge. Each start with an image which gets cut away from behind so that the reverse side hangs down. Bress does the cutting while wearing a suit with a third painting on it. Behind him is a fourth painting. The balance between the four levels shifts mesmerisingly over 15-30 minute loops. And that is just one strand of Bress’s video panel paintings shown here, relatable to Helena Almeida and Alex Hubbard, I suppose, but effectively a new cross-medium.

Still from Sunset Peacock, 2018 (29 minute video loop)
New Relics @ Thames-Side Studios, Harrington Way, Woolwich
To 24 June
Michael Samuels: Logjam, 2016

Artist-curators Kate Terry and Tim Ellis fill the large spaces of Thames-Side Studios’ gallery with no fewer than 56 sculptures, providing an excellent cross-section of current practice well worth the trip to Woolwich. The conceit of ‘New Relics’ is broad enough to allow considerable variety, but many artists use their materials with a certain wit: take Vasilis Asakopoulos’s resinous puddle in a chair (Shell II, 2018); Simon Brinkman’s fetishistic Untitled Anonymous, 2018, a black rubber, silicone and steel ramp to nowhere; Michael Samuels’ oddly resonant boxing off of a ladder in Logjam, 2016; and Alan Magee’s Was, is, shall be, 2015, a mere sprinkle of silicon which has been cast in the holes of a colander – one of several small floor-dwelling works offsetting the general up-thrust of forms. Oh, and Hamish Pearch’s kinetic Bambi, 2018 massages itself…

Alan Magee: Was, is, shall be, 2015

Noémie Goudal: Telluris @ Edel Assanti, 74a Newman Street - Fitzrovia

To 23 June 

French photographer Noémie Goudal presents three immersively installed takes on how we trammel between image and reality and between manmade and natural. The upper space is filled with wooden cube frames, within which lies the Telluris series, depicting similar 25-cube constructions within the landscape, in the forms used by analogue era scientists to model the geology of mountain formation.  Also incorporated is the Soulevement series, in which rock formations turn out to be photographs of sets of mirrors installed in the landscape. Downstairs, rock reflections take a different tack through the stereoscopic installation Study in Perspective III, which causes us to see similar images as differently constructed. It’s a substantial investigation of illusory substance.


Molly Soda: Me and My Gurls @ Annka Kultys Gallery, 472 Hackney Road – Cambridge Heath

To 16 June

Molly Soda’s teeming and multifarious practice is most naturally online. Here, then, she effectively transports her studio to the gallery by covering the walls with images and footage from her laptop, complete with a 15 foot printout of comments on one of her YouTube posts which takes over the space sculturally. That is a make-up tutorial which pokes an artist’s fun at the genre, yet evokes deadpan or mocking responses from people who take her to be playing it straight. Indeed, Soda entertainingly subverts various roles and genres. Instead of showing off her new clothes she adapts the format to present her favourite Gifs: she likes ‘the delayed Gif experience’, as when a flower keeps the viewer waiting before opening.


Maeve Brennan: Listening in the Dark @ Jerwood Space *, 171 Union Street - Southwark

To 3 June 

London seems to be in something of a cave moment just now. If you want paintings of them, see Mimei Thompson’s dark places in a show about light at ArthouSE1; for a psychedelic encounter with the astro-cthonics of alien abduction, spectacularly installed, head for Megan Broadmeadow at CGP. But I like bats in my caves, and Maeve Brennan’s 43 minute film Listening in the Dark makes the most of them, bringing the unintended fatal consequences of wind turbines on bats (their lungs explode in the pressure drop  behind the blades) together with ultrasound detection, scientific research methods, geological history and the operation of whale calls to explore bats as a symbol of how convenient it can seem to be to ignore what we are doing to the environment. It’s effectively paired in the Jerwood's 'Unintended Consequences' with Imran Perretta’s film about refugees, something else with which many would prefer to ignore. 

* Jerwood's web coverage is unusually good


Mequitta Ahuja: Notations @ Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street

To 2 June

Material Support, 2017 - 213 x 203cm

American painter Mequitta Ahuja - mentored by Kerry Marshall - takes a refreshingly unconventional view of the artist in the studio: both by staging herself reading the paper and doing a crossword as well as amongst various intersecting works; and by - in her words - 'positioning a woman-of-colour as primary picture-maker, in whose hands the figurative tradition is refashioned'. The personal and political aspects come together in Material Support, when we see her covering a canvas which refers to the 1865 promise of Forty acres and a mule for freed slaves - that it was never delivered is perhaps indicated by the letters being written backwards.  

Crossword, 2017 - 107 x 106 cm

Hermann Nitsch: Das Orgien Mysterien Theater @ Massimo de Carlo, 55 South Audley St - Mayfair

To May 25

This three floor survey with extensive film documentation of Nitsch's Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries, plenty of paintings and rooms full of relics gives a powerful overview of what Hermann Nitsch has done these 60 years. Plenty of transgressive and blasphemous animal slaughter, ceremony, nudity and crucifixion of course, but what’s it all about? Nitsch is an existentialist who seeks to maximise intensity by embracing extremes as - in his words - ‘the artist who is into meat and blood'. He believes that natural human instincts have been repressed, and that the rituals will release their energy, purify and redeem us. Even if you're not convinced, the spectacle remains.  


In The Future @ Collyer Bristow, 4 Bedford Row – Holborn

To 14 June

Installation view with Karen David

Law firm Collyer Bristow have, remarkably, now been using their offices to show art for 25 years*. And they’re big shows: 60-odd works by 20 artists appear in regulator curator Rosalind Davis’ latest, which uses a Talking Heads lyric even older than the gallery to set off thoughts about what the future might be like. Any danger of sci-fi similitude is countered by plenty of wit (eg Kitty Sterling, David Worthington, Sasha Bowles) and a good sprinkling of retro-futurism (Tim Ellis, John Greenwood and young German Arno Beck, who has the surprising idea in one of his age of using a typewriter to convert  digital images into deliciously delicate analogue equivalents). Four artists contribute especially large and coherent bodies of work: Dan Hays, Alison Turnbull, Ian Monroe and Karen David. You do need to know, I think, that the candies** are in David’s pictured installation because just that was used to lure E.T. from the woods.

* By appointment during office hours: and subject to meetings sometimes occupying rooms, so Friday afternoon is a good time to visit. Comes with a nice booklet.

** Odd what you can learn looking at art: Reese's Pieces are American packs of peanut butter candy spheres, manufactured by The Hershey Company in yellow, orange and brown. Sales tripled when, in one of the earliest such film product placements, they featured at a cost of $1m in ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, 1982.
Arno Beck: Textmode (Mountain), 2017 - typewriter drawing on Japanese paper     

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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.