London Art Exhibitions Explore Unusual Materials In February Lineup - Review
Paul Carey-Kent discovers copious use of fresh new materials in this months London gallery art offerings.
Maybe there’s no such thing as an unusual material these days. Consider the use of acted magazine texts by Gerard Byrne at Whitechapel, woollen thread by Fred Sandback at David Zwirner and the coal, coats and chairs of Jannis Kounellis at the Parasol Unit in three of the major shows of the moment. At any rate, there seems nothing odd in the following artists using battery acid, velvet, concrete, sandstone, bricks, oiled clay, sand and conversation. When Wil Murray uses paint, it never gets near canvas; when Fiona Rae does likewise, she adds pandas; when bronze gets a run, it’s mixed in with ceramics. We kick off with Glass, stainless steel, LED and a real time control system.
|Tom Na H-iu|
‘Genie Wiley (younger)’, 2012 - Green velvet
Mela Yerka: What red blue is in? @ Maria Stenfors, unit 10, 21 Wren Street - Clerkenwell
To 16 Feb: www.mariastenfors.com
That confused title is apposite, as young Polish painter Mela Yerka’s paintings all relate to the world as experienced by ‘feral children’: sad stories, but raising the classic questions of nature versus nurture in stark form. They range from direct portraits to apparent still lives, such as the tumblers in which Genie Wiley kept a supply of water obsessively to hand. What makes this more than a socio-philosophical diversion is the painterly way in which differently-formed worlds are conjured through means additive (egg tempera; glass panels with thread; silver leaf...) , subtractive (bleach on unprimed canvas) and materially neutral (velvet paintlessly stroked into an image).
|Lost Wax XVI|
To 16 March: www.whitecube.com
Idea-rich Belgian artist Kris Martin suggests that the threat to the viability of the world’s bee populations is one of many domino effects imperilling our whole future: honeycomb works in the top gallery, 104 sandstone gravestones ready to trigger a crashing wave in the lower space. What’s more striking, though, is the beauty of the bee works, made through a chance-driven process of thrusting rectangular sections of cells into sand, adding ceramic crystals, burning them and then casting the remainder to leave a bronze frame within which a variable proportion of ceramic and bronze hexagonal cells remain.
|The Conversation #1|
To 17 March: www.spacestudios.org.uk
Curator Paul Pieroni has a knack for unearthing tediously fascinating films: here the long and barely audible late 80’s slacker punk dialogues of the subsequently famous Raymond Pettibon; and two hours of attempts – mostly unavailing - to engage with passers-by outside Factory Records on the day of its closure. More directly communicative is the first in a planned series of staged dialogues meddling with the conventions of art talk:. Text #1 finds glitz-deconstructionist Clunie Reid discussing image-evolution, tattoo-censorship and self-assertion with glamour-girl-come-bodybuilder Jodie Marsh. Add Anglo-Hellenic art/architecture collective Kernel’s installation, generating sculptural form by using reports on the economy as a score of sorts, and Pieroni has woven a most diverting conversation between conversational works.
To 16 Feb: www.carrollfletcher.com
This extensive and varied show can be appreciated as spectacle, as Beuysian dance of materials, or as test bed for two decades of Grey’s teeming ideas. Dip into an hour long double-screen simulation of a sequentially accelerated quaquaversal journey through the solar system; bathe in sleek orange-vitrined installations of TVs, cameras and radios turned into eternal proto-types by coverings of oil-moistened clay; toddle into a sand pit to play with building blocks matched to the aspect ratios of cinema screens and traditional painting formats. Then consider the principles of progression and the cute possibility that the tropes of artistic modernism emerged from the unacknowledged source of… the kindergarten.
Pavel Büchler: Acid & Nicotine @ Max Wigram Back Gallery, 106 New Bond St – Mayfair
To 2 March: www.maxwigram.com
David Jablonowski turns the digital into the sculptural to some effect in Max Wigram’s main space, but I’m more drawn to the circular logic of 22 hands depicted in smoking action in the new Back Gallery. Anglicised Czech Pavel Büchler has sourced them from uncensored photographs – recent reproductions often edit out cigarettes – of the smoker-heavy groups of Beat writers (Burroughs, O’Hara, Kerouac…) and French intellectuals (Sartre, Goddard, Barthes…) who have inspired him. The drawings are made using car battery acid, which is turned brown by the heat of the artist’s own cigarettes: Buchler says he needs to smoke eight per drawing on average. From smoke to smoke via the combustion engine, then - a polluter’s charter which yet picks up a waft of nostalgia.
To 2 March: www.katemacgarry.com
Matt Bryans is known for his newspaper collages, and his 4th show for Kate MacGarry concentrates on landscapes: torn combinations up to 10 metres wide, some pieces of which retain the ghost of a frontal image, others being rubbed through to the point that it’s the text on the back which we can just about make out, demonstrating that it’s not only the landscapes which have depth. Bryans has always liked rootling around outside for detritus. Relocating from London to Norway hasn’t changed that, and here he extends the erasure principle with a floor installation of bricks which he’s happened on and lovingly carved back with a flint, as if to discover the pebbles retained inside. I saw a stone aged riff on Carl Andre and on Giussepe Penone’s whittling of a plank back to its inner tree: Bryans told me he was thinking more about the bricks thrown by rioters or by Ignatz Mouse at Krazy Kat...
|I always wish you every happiness with my whole heart in the dsitance|
To 23 Feb: www.timothytaylorgallery.com
Images courtesy the relevant artists and galleries plus Richard Learoyd (Mori)