Latest London Art Reviews
Previously Editor at Large, Art World Magazine
Art Exhibitions • Events • Galleries
By Paul Carey-Kent
29 July 2011
'Anthology' at CHARLIE SMITH London, 336 Old St, 5-20 Aug
I have to declare an interest in the juried prize show 'Anthology', which opens on the evening of Thursday 4 August (when the winner will be announced) and runs to 20 August: I'm one of the five judges behind the choice of ten artists. There were 650 applicants, and the spread of good work was such that 43 entrants were in the top ten of at least one judge! To illustrate that depth, I’ve chosen to highlight:
- five artists who are in the exhibited ten (the others are Jake Clark, Emma Critchley, Harold de Bree, Enzo Marra and Michelle Sank); and
- five artists who didn’t make the show, but whose work I particularly liked.
Andy Harper is known for his hyper-detailed renderings of real and imagined plant life in an old-masterly oil palette with greens and browns dominant. If their somewhat claustrophobic spaces suggest analogies between the vegetable world and our own interior physical workings, then this recent series sees Harper move into more mental territory. The intricate tantrically-tinged patterns evoke the Marsh Chapel Experiment run under the supervision of Timothy Leary. That purported to show that psychedelic drugs increase our propensity to experience religious feelings - and these paintings do indeed take Harper’s practice to another level.
Beauty Is in the Eyes of the Collective
There is something to be said for a little interactive fun in a show, and up-and-coming Australian Steve Morgana, who has worked with a physicist, could provide that. For example 'Co-operative Kaleidoscope (You're a Star!)' needs two viewers to stand at either end before either can see the star patterning produced, and his 'Lamps' react to the spectator's movements to vary their 'auroral chromatic'. They’re more than ingenious fun, too, with points to make about social collaboration, the subjectivity of perception and the impact we have on our surroundings.
The young British painter Tom Ormond makes paintings inspired by utopian architectural schemes, building up multiple abstract elements as if they might tell us how to construct a future. He has in the past based the overall shapes on nuclear explosions, but here he more optimistically declares his inspiration to be the light by means of which we see those structures, which he calls 'a symbol for creative optimism and enthusiasm'.
The young British painter Alex Hudson uses a naggingly nostalgic near-monochrome technique to conflate timescales and set up the potential to reach spaces beyond the scene depicted. In 'Elevator II', for example, we see a romantically-depicted landscape in which a geometric white form makes a modernist incursion. Their combination suggests such questions as: what means of escape are possible from received approaches? What would the past have imagined of the future compared with what we know of it as the present? And what does that tell us about our own futures?
Suzanne Moxhay's photographs of elaborate three dimensional collages make apocalyptic, futuristic landscapes out of the everyday nostalgia of old magazines such as the National Geographic. The outcome is a manipulated reality in which the conjunction of real and illusory space is matched by the combination of real and imagined time. What lures the viewer in is the contrast, referencing its parallel in film sets, between the banality of the set-ups and the convincing deceptions to which they gives rise.
FIVE OTHERS I LIKED
London-based Swiss painter Christina Niederberger re-imagines and yet contradicts such modernist standbys such as grids, circles and Klein's anthropometries by using lace, net curtains, doilies or soft toys as the stencil starting points for oil, acrylic and spray paint. Sometimes (as in the submitted 'Trophy') she combs fake fur stretched over the canvas to make it look like paint, so achieving an even more direct collision between high art and kitsch. The results are intriguingly ambiguous. Are they realist depictions of the constituent elements, or abstractions? Are they tributes or critiques? Are they stupid enough to be clever, or is it the other way round?
I Felt the Plastic Bag Begin to Give Way
Stuart Hartley's plywood sculptures have the appearance of paintings which have been interrupted by events. They call to mind both the molecular activity which underlies the surface stability of ordinary objects; and those random irruptions which flavour our everyday routines – as signalled by such witty titles as 'One Foot the Bath and the Doorbell Rang'. The result is a lively sense of the works representing their own creation, just as they establish an attractive aesthetic based on setting off inner and outer elements and natural and artificial colours.
Dieter Mammel's characteristic medium is the unusual one of monochrome ink and watercolor on ungrounded canvas, which he deploys with a brilliant use of semi-accidental effects. In his 'Under Deep Water' cycle he builds that directly into his conceptual schema by showing people – and we're 60% water, after all – submerged in the element from which they seem to be doubly made. Mammel, in his own words, 'plunges into the flow of colour' to emerge with these blueberry gestures towards a reality from which the bravura technique keeps us at one remove.
Vom Shit Dog 6
Planet Mooney is crazy in a good way: it's hard not to smile at the relish with which high and low are combined in vivid hand-sculpted tableaux of silly jokes, religious icons, bodily expulsions, floral beauty and schoolboy magic... There's an acceptance of manifold human drives for their own sakes which achieves a rambunctious register peculiar to Mooney. Maybe we're all mad at some level, he seems to suggest, in which case why should we worry?
Ossian Ward on Tracey Emin at White Cube, from the series 'Art Review Graphs'
If only, an artist might dream, art could pre-empt its own reception! That’s the neat trick EA Byrne implies in using the phrases from art reviews to form graph-like abstractions. In so doing she simultaneously pays tribute to the value created by critical evaluation while playfully undermining its claims to objectivity through the absurd pretence that the opinions cited are amenable to a scientific system of quantification. This quiet work seemed to me the most interesting exploration of the on-trend interface between art and language.
2 July 2011
REASONS TO VISIT PARIS
For those seeking reasons to visit Paris (how hard can it be?), the substantial Manet show at the Musée; D'Orsay has been extended to 17 July. What, the Louvre aside, might go with that? Two other highlights - a comprehensive book-driven look at Richard Prince's world at the Bibliothéque Nationale and Francois Morellet's imaginatively laid out 'Reinstallations' at the Pompidou - are at the end of their runs. Several of the obvious big hitters (Palais de Tokyo, Musée d'Art Moderne, Foundation Cartier, Pinacothéque, Perrotin, Marian Goodman, Karsten Greve, Yvon Lambert) are underpowered at present. But on the other hand:
Edouard Manet: Gipsy with a Cigarette, 1862
Shari Boyle: King Cobra
La Maison Rouge, 10 Boulevard de la Bastille – 12th Arrondissement
To 25 Sept
Who would have thought that the Canadian city of Winnipeg (pop 700,000), best-known for isolation, cold and having once housed Marshall McCluhan and Neil Young, had more than 70 recent artists worth exploring? Perhaps it hasn't, but it has enough to make this big party of a show thoroughly enjoyable, mostly in a quirky way which casts the Royal Art Lodge (Dzama, Pylychuk, Farber etc) rather than the edgier General Idea (claimed for Winnipeg through college attendance, though more associated with Toronto) as the defining collective. Nor had I realised that Erica Eyres, Karel Funk and Kent Monkman were all born in Winnipeg. Highlights include the Guy Maddin docu-fantasia which provides the show's name, and 'Winter Kept Us Warm', a basement full of work showcasing the potential for erotic action during the snow-bound months.
Joe Bradley: Big Indian
'Duckling Fantasy' & Peter Peri 'We, The Children of the Twentieth Century'
Galeie Almine Rech, 40 Rue de Saintonge – 3rd Arrondissement
To 30th July
Joe Bradley is a hot young artist in New York, but has shown little in Europe. His work varies greatly from series to series, and though I preferred this energetically childish set to the shaped monochromes grouped into figures at the Saatchi Gallery last year, the play between them enhances both. 'Duckling Fantasy' presents dirty abstraction (largely due to Bradley walking on the work) with underlying comic cuts in pseudo-clunky style: a tweaking of action painting's tail to go with his earlier pulling of Ellsworth Kelly's leg. And then there's Rech's other floor, of the dependably excellent Peter Peri...
Contemporary Grotesque: Walking
Galerie Vallois, 36 Rue de Seine – 6th Arrondissement
To 30 July
I would not have guessed that the extraordinary graphite and resin 'Contemporary Grotesques', in a register round about Ashley Bickerton meets John Currin, were by Keith Tyson. But in his established way of bringing scientific issues into art, Tyson see them as 'defences against accepting that each person has an identical character', shown in the carbon from which we're all made. I've no idea whether I liked the skeletal dancer, walrus-rider , triple group of urinators etc, but they certainly grabbed my attention.
Dimensions in Modern Management
Jousse Entreprise, 6 Rue St Claude – 3rd Arrondissement
To 28 July
This first of two neighbouring conceptual installations utilising books sees young French artist Julien Prévieux range from google sketching to patented gestures. It centres on 'Forget the Money', an installation of a hundred books acquired in the post-conviction sale of the assets of Bernard Madoff, who notoriously made off with so much cash from other people. Prévieux extracts from these those sentences which contain the word 'money'. In sound and writing, they form both a disquisition on obsession and an unbalanced pseudo-narrative which comes worryingly close to sense at times.
Torri, 7 Rue St Claude – 3rd Arrondissement
To 16 July
New-York based Canadian Gareth Long plays off the iconic US designs for J.D. Sa¬lin¬ger's novels. The books themselves appear with all but the diagonal rainbow flashes erased from their covers, perhaps referencing Salinger's notorious secrecy. That pattern is then transmuted into large lenticular prints which distort the geometric modernist content as the moving viewer reads them, parallelling the way in which Salinger's writing fractured modernist approaches. What's nice is how the shifting Louis-come-Stella-come-Riley references draw you so effectively into the story of the work.
Paris - Delhi – Bombay
The Pompidou Centre - 3rd Arrondissement
To 19 Sept
The Pompidou's main summer show is a riot of mostly big, high impact pieces by 50 of the best-known artists from France and India, most of it made specifically for the show on the theme of 'What is India Today?', and shown in themed groups such as 'home' and 'religion'. It makes for a suitably teeming experience, in which I particularly liked Loris Gréaud's tantric room and Jean-Michel Othoniel's first musical instrument sculpture stood on the French side; and Dayanita Singh's night photographs and Sunil Gawde's garlands of razor blades - two of the less spectacular Indian contributions compared with, say, the biggest installation of kitchen utensils I've ever seen from Subodh Gupta – and I've seen a few...
25 May 2011
Special Amsterdam Roundup
NEW IN AMSTERDAM
It's no news that Amsterdam makes for an ideal long weekend, but what about its Art Fair? The recent Art Amsterdam (11-15 May), while not quite small with some 130 galleries, was of manageable size. It focused mainly on the Netherlands, with only 30% of the galleries being from elsewhere (just three of those were London-based - Vegas, Patrick Heide and White Space - but all had interesting main and project stands). In the absence of the usual big fair galleries, there was plenty of chance to find artists new to me:
Yet to be Titled
Jarmuschek + Partner, Berlin
Berlin-based Romanian-born installation artist Dieter Lutsch's attention-grabbing chemistry set proved decidedly artful: not only did the foam oozing out of colourful liquids make for faecal sculptural shape-shifting, its apparent whiteness was betrayed by the way it came together in a suitably dirty brown in the lower container, leading one back to spot the separate elements of faint colour which closer inspection revealed were retained in the foam. Thus was the difference between light and substance in the matter of colour neatly skewered.
Gallery Mario Mazzoli, Berlin
Berlin-based American sound artist and composer Douglas Henderson showed the latest of his active sculptures taking an off-kilter look at superheroes with a gallery which, uniquely I think, focuses on works which use sound. His version of Wonder Woman was dominated by gyrating breasts formed from reversed loudspeakers, emitting the surprisingly bell-like and appropriately pre-cinematic sounds of popcorn rat-tatting against the saucepan lid as it cooked. By happy coincidence, the Stedelik Museum’s new exploration of TV in art included Dara Birnbaum’s seminal video appropriating Wonder Woman’s transformative moments.
In the Company Of
West, The Hague
My favourite video at the Fair, which had few, was by the South African Simon Gush, who had organized and filmed a football match between teams of immigrants on a Belgian railway track. Cue references to the centrality of travel to the players, the contrast between the fluid movement of professional footballers in a global business and the obstacles faced by the mass of would-be-emigrants, and tracks doubling as pitch markings of a sort and a modernist grid. But mostly it was fascinating spectacle, both as a visual setting and for how deftly the players dealt with the constraints and random deflections of their improbable field of action.
Mitsy Goenendijk: Mr Punch
Gallery Majke Hüsstege, Den Bosch
There was a double helping of primate at the Fair: Albert Watson's well-known photographs of chimpanzees - trying on masks, one holding a gun - and one of Dutch sculptor Mitsy Goenendijk's disquieting sculptures of clothed monkeys. I found it compelling in a way in which, to be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to be compelled. Is some backwards development, some de-evolution, being hinted at? 'Mr Punch' was almost as striking as running across Mitsy herself, helping out at the Torch Gallery's interesting Terry Rogers show, where she was working on another monkey stretched across the desk
Among the themes one could pick out at the Fair, there was plenty of interface between architecture and art, including in the attractively confused spaces of the young Austrian painter Aurelia Gratzer, which reminded me – by curious coincidence presumably – of Wyndham Lewis. Gratzer studied maths first and art second, and recently won the Central Europe's Strabag Artaward. Her small canvases illogically combine layered perspectives taken from various photographic sources, and bring nostalgically earthy colouration to the apparently modern. Here, in the visual hurly-burly of competing visions, was a quiet corner which felt right.
Real Fake Art – Richter Candles
Gallery Wouter van Leeuwen, Amsterdam
Michael Wolf, a German photographer who has spent much of his career in Asia, has developed several interesting projects, with subjects including toys made in China, Hong Kong high rise living and the press of the Tokyo subway system. The series 'Real Fake Art' focuses on the business that has developed in China for copying modern art works, mainly for export to the West. The Chinese copyists were shown with their creations, alongside the actual copy which Wolf had purchased from them, to yield a fresh take on the nature of originality together with the opportunity, rather neatly taken in the mops and candles scenario here, to mine formal similarities between object, surroundings and artist.
British painter Peter Davis – not to be confused with the differently excellent Peter Davies - has shown his abstract process paintings in London intermittently since the early 1990s, but I hadn't seen much of him for real. He's made a lot of work on aluminium car panels, but his latest series uses gloss paint on glass over the top of a coloured board. Little of the effect, I fear, comes over in reproduction but the objects themselves generate an eerily seductive glow which we lured me in to work out the cause, and then to encounter a natural-seeming emotional charge escaping from the rules of their making.
There were strong shows elsewhere in the city – Ryan Gander, Navid Nuur, Maaike Schoorel, Michiel Cuellars, Ryan McGinley, Terry Rodgers... - plus an Aselm Keifer installation in the Rijksmuseum, new displays in the 'temporary Stedelik' – both major museums remain in the throws of redevelopment - and also more new artists to be found dotted around the canals. Here are three Dutch artists who appealed:
Fire Training Ground, Schiphol from 'Set Amsterdam'
One of the shows at the large and lively FOAM, a public photography institute which publishes the excellent journal of that name, was by the well-regarded New York resident Dana Lixenberg. In ‘Set Amsterdam’ she portrays her native city through landscapes and interiors emptied of people so as to resemble a film set, created by the lives soon due to retake centre stage. Possibly not the most original premise, but one which worked extremely well through the choice of elemental locations – from hostel to garbage incinerator to sex theatre – and the details on which she homed in.
The Living Room
Ron Mandos Gallery
The multimedia artist Roderick Hietbrink neatly combined photographs dealing with how the Chinese cover things in public spaces with a more local invasion of private space. His three channel video installation 'The Living Room' is set in the typically Dutch 'doorzonwoning' (literally 'sun-through-house'), in which sunlight is maximised by means of a living room which stretches from the front of the house all the way to the back. The camera dwells a while on the furniture, potted plants, photos and personal possessions before a large oak tree invades in triple view, being dragged through the room to destructive effect.
Actionfields Gallery, Belgium
The lively and centrally-placed Belgian cultural institute featured young artists from three galleries, including the Ghent-studying Dutch sculptor Conny Kuilboer, She most typically uses blankets, attracted by their warmth-giving yet constrictive character as well as the texture and available colours. The choice of such a constraining medium plays well with making unlikely connections, and here I liked the outlandish wit in the forcibly rough-cut link between animal and vegetable.
Art Exhibitions • Events • Galleries
By Paul Carey-Kent
01 May 2011
There seems to be enough interesting abstraction around at the moment to motivate a wide-ranging tour of London. I start with seven examples from seven different gallery zones which illustrate the variety which flows from differing motive forces for the work. I would crudely characterise those as appropriation and collage (Taaffe), chance and process(Baroff), drawing and gesture (Crosby), photography (Graham), conceptual play and language(Pirecki)and definitional issues (Mummery & Schnelle) as well as pure painting (Hoyland). Added to all of which I would also recommend Harold Cohen at Bernard Jacobson; Robin Foottit at Cole Contemporary; Kate Owens at Seventeen; Simon Dybbroe Møller at Laura Bartlett; 'Provisional Painting' at Modern Art; the forthcoming Callum Innes at Frith Street and Frank Bowling at Rollo; and the rather different perspective of Buddhist artist Yi Xuan at the Hua Gallery.
Ingo Meller: Königsblau hell, Mussini 485 | Königsblau dunkel, Mussini 486 | Lichtblau, Pebeo 33 | Ultramarinrosarot, Scheveningen 187, 2008/09
What If It's All True, What Then?
Mummery & Schnelle
83 Great Titchfield St - Fitzrovia
Part 1: 6 April - 14 May (Part 2: 18 May - 25 June)
This overview of that fertile strand of abstraction which tweaks the distinction between painting and object has the incidental merit of invoking some excellent recent shows elsewhere(Angela de la Cruz and Peter Joseph at Lisson; Simon Callery at Fold; and Rebecca Salter, at the Beardsmore Gallery). Here's Ingo Meller's radical follow-through on all those comments about figurative paintings being at the same time just paint: his curiously pleasing swathes are dragged onto linen, presented exceedingly plainly (no frame or support), and named after exactly what it says on the tubes of paint they come from and – in one way – represent.
Fuji Fujicolor HR400 400asa Beyond Caring 1984
Anthony Reynolds, 60 Great Marlborough St – London
To 4 June
The English photographer Paul Graham, based in America for a decade now, has a 30 year retrospective at the Whitechapel. In it, he holds documentary and formal concerns in balance in depicting such subjects as unemployment offices (the 'Beyond Caring' sequence whihc is the source for the 'Films' image featured above), the Irish troubles and Japanese consumerism. Anthony Reynolds' show presents an abstract take on the same material by scanning unused frames and ends of the film stocks: the resulting images are titled for the stock used and photograph taken with it - rather in the manner of Ingo Meller above.
Earth Watcher (Mysteries 6)
Beaux Arts, 22 Cork Street – Central
To 7 May
I think of John Hoyland's 1979 retrospective as one of the Serpentine's best shows – but I haven't been convinced by much of his work since about 1985, which does sound a fairly lengthy 'but'. I just didn't pick up the same driving necessity as in his vigorously rigorous earlier work. It's good, then, to report that many of the paintings here, made in his mid seventies despite health problems, are dark, brooding and somehow urgent abstractions with hints of voids and swamps as well as of night skies. There's an aura of mortality, and it seems to be dark green.
Gagosian Gallery Britannia St - King's Cross
To 14 May
Anything could be in the teeming mix of Philip Taaffe's bright and big (up to 12 feet high) new cross-cultural,cross-historical multiplicities, which turn all manner of appropriated motifs into abstraction through sheer density of patterning. The history of decoration and the illustration of the natural world are favoured, and the most strikingly new works here look like mash-ups of stained glass, Islam and batik. Taaffe uses various methods – from printing more than from from painting – to steer well clear of expressionist tendencies while coming no closer to minimalism. Indeed, I struggle to think of another abstract painter who seems so far from both.
The Edge of the World
Bartha Contemporary, 136B Lancaster Rd – Ladbroke Grove
To 25 June
The last pre-move show in Bartha Contemporary's current westerly location concentrates on the 'floating line' works of Brooklyn-based Jill Baroff. She colours a frame-like shape around delicate paper, cuts it out, then makes a 'drawing' out of the semi-haphazard way in which the cut-out element falls, sometimes colour side up, sometimes not. They make an effective and relatively instant contrast with the beautiful 'tide drawings' in which Baroff records 24 hour cycles of sea movement through variable line spacings - ask, and you can see those, too.
Rachmaninoff's, First Floor, Unit 106, 301 Kingsland Rd – Haggerston
To 28 May
Clem Crosby has been painting non-representationally for two decades. His chosen ground is formica, which provides a glossy, modern, industrial contrast to the more natural and historic oil paint, and also enables him to wipe off the paint at will until the 'right' spontaneous result is reached in the manner of a sketch made large. Crosby also has a neat way with titles: 'Cartoon' is half Tom and Jerry fight, half Renaissance whirlpool study; 'The Greeks' is an heroic attempt at the perfect orange; 'King Heroin' takes its cue from an anti-drugs leaflet and contains a more ironic echo of 'hero'.
Philomene Pirecki - Grey Painting: Text Version
Aftermath: Objects From Projects
Chelsea Space, 16 John Islip Street - Pimlico
3 May – 4 June
Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court Rd
7 May – 16 July
Laure Genillard ended conventional programming at her eponymous gallery last year, yet it has a healthy after-life with two exhibitions in May. The Chelsea Space sees her curate an exploration of another kind of after-life: that of installation projects. What is left for posterity from Genillard's collaborations with such as Maurizio Cattelan, Stephen Willats and Peter Wuethrich? Meanwhile, her premises are now the site of occasional shows supervised by curator-tenants Hana Noorali and Lynton Talbot. It should be worth attending the opening (6 May) and / or ringing (07598 778 985) to access a wide-ranging show by Philomene Pirecki - whose practice is much wider than the abstract paintings for which she is best-known - which will change over the generous run of the exhibition.
Durrington Towers I
A Song of the Earth and The Cry of Concrete
Kings Place Gallery, 90 York Way – King's Cross
6 May - 10 June
The King's Place Gallery has a lot of space, and will use it all to survey some of David Hepher's largest landscapes. As the show's title suggests, it will feature not just his fairly often-seen urban collage paintings – which powerfully relocate the aesthetic effects of graffiti and neglect from tower block to canvas – but also his less familiar views of rural France. Either way, social concerns are present, but take second place to the echoes of the modernist grid in tower blocks, organic forms in farms and the contrasts between paint and more literal materials... so maybe I haven't yet moved so far from the theme of abstraction.
set up, sound check, end
Vegas Gallery, 274 Poyser Street – Cambridge Heath
One of my January recommendations was Andrew Cross's surprisingly absorbing 30 minute film of drumming, 'The Solo'. Now Jemima Stehli comes forward with a much longer video of a four piece band setting up and taking down a show. Stehli herself has been the lead actor in her fascinating explorations of body and image over the last fifteen years, but has recently moved towards real-time set-ups in which she is behind the camera. Until now, though, they've been shown only abroad. Something of an exodus is occurring from Vyner Street, incidentally: Kate MacGarry and Madder139 are moving back to their original areas (in Shoreditch and near the Barbican respectively) and this is Vegas's second show elsewhere following a brief occupancy of the former David Risley space. Meanwhile, back in Vyner Street's biggest gallery...
Wilkinson Gallery, 50-58 Vyner Street
6 May - 5 June
Politically driven or politically incorrect? Miroslav Tichý, who has just died aged 85, was a trained artist restricted by the Czechoslovak Communist regime. From the late 60's to mid 80's, he made voyeuristic photographs of the women of Kyjov with a crude home-made pinhole cameras. So is it just the erratic focus, scratches, scribbles and awkward framing which turn them from his means of arousal into objects of art? Or was Tichý also marking out dissident territory, mindful of the political parallels of his thwarted desires and satirising the surveillance and paranoia of the state? Either way, this should prove a timely and (uncomfortably) alluring chance to take a view.