Paul Carey-Kent one of London's leading art critics give us his choices for summer art exhibitions not to miss.
‘Matthew Higgs and Clive Hodgson’ & ‘Figuratively’ @ Wilkinson, 50-58 Vyner St – Cambridge Heath
To 16 Aug: www.wilkinsongallery.com
This is quite the smorgasbord: New York mutli-tasker Matthew Higgs pairs his droll found text works, extended here from isolated phrases to the attachment of favourite books to the canvas, with the plangently diaristic abstract drollery of Clive Hodgson His nine paintings demonstrate, largely on a bigger scale than previously typical, that he’s far from running out of new ways to relish and subvert the combination of simple gesture, obtrusive signature and date. Higgs then mixes things up nicely by pairing that show, across both floors, with five figurative artists born in 1977-80. Of those I warmed most to Texan Daniel Rios Rodriguez’s small paintings encrusted with objects and wit, and Canadian Jane Corrigan’s slippery scenarios fluidly realised wet-into-wet: here her character seems to be preparing carrots for a rabbit she has killed with some sort of pastoral castration sub-plot going on.
Bruce Conner: Crossroads @ Thomas Dane Gallery, 11 Duke Street - St James's
This may sound trite if not outright dull: a long film made in 1976 of atomic explosion tests from 1946, largely in slow motion, with some music. Yes, a terrible beauty... In practice. though, it's compulsive viewing, partly due to the presentation on a 4 metre screen; partly due to the quality of the images taken from 328 high-tech cameras carried by drones and 64 aircraft, making the Bikini Atoll test the most photographed moment in history; partly due to the edit and pacing; and especially due to how that fits with 12 minutes of Patrick Gleeson's re-creation on Moog of the sound of the explosion, followed by 25 minutes of Terry Riley's organ improvisations, which take the troubled transcendental to a whole other level. Set aside 37 minutes now!
e-studio Luanda: African Industrial Revolution @ Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland StreetTo 15 Aug: www.tiwani.co.uk
The show's curator, Rita GT, has designed her clothes from Francisco Vidal's paintings
We're getting some African weather, so why not check out this feelgood slice of Angola, actually a version of the national pavilion currently at Venice. That in itself reflects transportable nature of the concept: it's an open studio set up by artists collective e-studio Luanda. The means of production are unpacked from the U.topia Machine, aka a plywood box on the floor. Painter Fancisco Vidal is holding the most prominent court, covering the walls with intensely colourful abstractly-patterned faces on handmade paper and rapidly sketching all-comers: my wall portrait was number 552. The idea, in a neat reversal, is to produce, distribute and share by traditional means a version of online experience.
Francisco Vidal with one of his portrait drawings. I should add that they're not meant to be realistic...
Emily Young: Call and Response: London @ The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond St
To 29 Aug: www.faslondon.com/fine_art_society_contemporary/exhibitions
Caramel Dark Face, 2015 Caramel Onyx - 23 x 16 x 19 cm
Emily Young, though born in London was partly raised in Rome and recently returned to live in Italy, where she works with the most traditional of means– free carving in the manner of Michelangelo. Yet there's a 60s counterculture feel to how she sees her conversation with stone as being 'small part of mankind's most serious, most elemental conversation, that with Earth'. So it makes some sense that in her youthful days experimenting with drugs she was the Emily in Pink Floyd's 'See Emily Play'. Here, in the London half of a show shared with Venice, she shows an ability to release faces from a huge variety of minerals - typically discards from defunct quarries, which she prefers for their characterful imperfections.
Verdite Forest Head, 2015Verdite 23 x 23 x 20 cm
Tomoko Yoneda: Beyond Memory @ Grimaldi Gavin, 27 Albemarle Street - Mayfair
To 7 August: www.grimaldigavin.com
Lone Deer, Sanderbands, Bangldesh, 2008The London-based Japanese Tomoko Yaneda shows images from 2003 onwards to deal with the not infrequent trope of apparently innocuous photographs which turn out to be of sites freighted with historical and emotional resonance: a means, if you will, of magnifying the innate memorialising tendency of photography* . Among Yoneda's subjects are homes built in the capital of Taiwan during a period of Japanese occupation (1895 to 1945); the most frequently flooded Delta in Bangladesh; and Stalin City in Hungary. Apart from being somewhat ahead of that curve, what distinguishes her treatment is the sheer poised allure of her pictures, which quietly raises the impact of the contradictions involved, and her ability to fix on some what TS Eliot might have called an objective correlative for the emotions felt, from a lone deer to peeling walls to a semi-submerged couple.
* Zarina Bhimji does something related in film, and I'd also commend her newest,Jangbar, at Nottingham New Art Exchange, 16 July - 27 Sept Top Photo
Lovers, Dunaújváros, Hungary , 2004
Isa Genzken: Basic Research Paintings & ﬁg-2 26/50: Anne Hardy @ the ICATo 6 Sept (Genzken) / 5 July (Hardy)
Isa Genzken, Basic Research, 1989, oil on canvas, 90 x 75 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne
For just this week the ICA offers a striking pairing of artists presenting the studio in the gallery as a means of moving from one medium to another. The main space has Isa Genzken’s seminal late 60’s Basic Research paintings, which are frottages made by applying paint to canvas laid on the studio floor - appropriate for someone seen mainly as a sculptor. The textures picked up oscillate between aerial landscape, dusty close-up and plain abstraction. In the crazy turnover of ﬁg-2, this week is Anne Hardy’s turn: having made her reputation with photographs of meticulously constructed studio scenarios, Hardy expanded into showing the set-ups themselves, and has now ditched the putative link to photography to make a sculptural environment linked to a 15 minute soundtrack of its own making in the studio, and its installation across various other locations. The sound of tape being peeled away proves particularly evocative.
Anne Hardy at ﬁg-2
The Shape of Things @ The Dot Project, 94 Fulham Rd - Chelsea
Selma Parlour: Curtain (2013) oil on linen, 60 x 50 cm
You might think, a hundred years on from Malevich, that all the possibilities for geometric abstraction would have been played out. Sure, you can batter it, stick on odd surfaces, play it off against sculpture; complicate the space with mirroring, emphasise the sides of the surface; use surprising shapes of canvas, explore sequences, subtly undermine apparent regularity; or adopt a meta-painting strategy as if you’re depicting geometric paintings, not geometry straight. But those are all moves I’ve seen before. And yet, I haven’t seen them made in the same ways as by this well-chosen quartet of Tim Ellis, Jane , Kritina and Selma Parlour. Turns out you might as well say you’ve seen paintings of people before. True, the hang could be more sympathetic to the subtlety of the work, especially Parlour’s, but it’s good to see this second adventurous show from a new gallery off the usual track.
Time Ellis installation shot___________________
Justin Hibbs: Alias_Re_Covered @ Carroll / Fletcher, 56 - 57 Eastcastle St - Fitzrovia
To 12 Sep: www.carrollfletcher.com
Justin Hibbs’ first solo show at Carroll / Fletcher is something of a multi-dimensional juggling act. It’s simplest to start with his version of Joseph Albers’ album cover for Mussorgsky's'Pictures at an Exhibition'. That connects with music and design, and is made with a pin-striping machine on linen, causing glitches which link to the humanising acceptance of errors in even the most computerised of future imaginings. The music cues the show’s ambient soundpiece, and the glitches anticipate the crashed computer screen as a generator of sleek abstractions which set off a dance of two and three dimensions as paintings fold out into sculptures. It’s too complex to describe quickly, but preliminary ideas form a sort of brain in the central room, and some domestically coloured walls offset the industrial aspect of what proves a seamlessly holistic show. Given that Hibbs embraces the fault, I’m tempted to complain, does his show itself have enough?
Alias Re_Versioned, 2015
Emma Bennett: Several Small Fires @ Charlie Smith, 336 Old Street, 2nd Floor - Shoreditch
To 25 July: charliesmithlondon.com
Haunts, 2015 - oil on oak, 25 x 20 cm
It was interesting, at Emma Bennett’s private, view, to hear the wide range of preferred favourites among eleven superficially similar paintings on small oak panels, all showing themes extracted from 18th century paintings on a void-like black ground. Was it all about the painting, especially in the lead motif of fires? Were they meditations on mortality, pushing the vanitas in a contemporary direction flagged by the show’s title (which comes from the late Stuart Croft’s adaptation of Ed Ruscha’s phrase)? Were past and present being played off? Was there a religious dimension? Or was the essence in sex – burning passion, ripe fruit, ruffled bed linen? Just the sort of ambiguity you want.
Painter Marguerite Horner (left), who's on a campaign to be photographed with artists, looks pleased to have added Emma Bennett to her recent co-starring appearances with Tuymans, Hockney, and Borremans
Sterling Ruby & Mike Kelley: Spray, Memory @ Inigo Philbrick, 22 Davies St and
Richard Prince: New Portraits @ Gagosian Gallery, 17-19 Davies St - near Bond Street
To 31 July (Philbrick) / 1 Aug (Gagosian)
Mike Kelley: Memory Ware Flat No. 15, 2001 - Plastic and metal buttons and marbles, assorted other plastic and metal objects, sea shells and epoxy resin on wooden panel in wooden artist's frame 180 x 256 cm
Arguably the two most influential American artists of the 'baby boomer' generation have shows either side of Davies Street. Inigo Philbrick’s new space aptly pairs Sterling Ruby’s rethinking of abstract traditions as spray from the streets with ‘memory ware flats’ by Mike Kelley (1954-2012) – encrusted archeological accumulations of everyday objects which act give our collective pasts a decidedly Freudian twist in the context of Kelley's work as a whole. Opposite, Gagosian shows ‘New Portraits’ by Richard Prince (born 1949): screen captures on canvas lifted from Instagram. They generate something of the bracingly radical ‘can that be art?’ impact of his first rephotographs 40 years ago, and Prince’s account of their genesis is fascinating – make sure ask to see that or pre-read on the gallery site.
Richard Prince: Untitled (portrait), 2015 - Inkjet on canvas, 167 × 124 cm
Emma Hart & Jonathan Baldock: ‘Suckerz’ @ l’étrangère, 44a Charlotte Rd – Shoreditch
Emma Hart: Hair ceramics, 2015
Joanna Mackiewicz-Gemes is doing a good job of maintaining the standards of a space formerly occupied by Carl Freedman and Andrew Mummery, here with an unusual collaboration in which Emma Hart and Jonathan Baldock produce separate work which they combine into a joint installation, at the centre of which is a riotously sensual dinner table replete with tongue napkins, breast plates, drunkenly wonky ceramic wineglasses and cutlery with fingernails. Hart’s spaghetti turned into hair by strategic use of the scrunchy, and Baldock’s animated way with holes in paintings are equally lively. The artists reveal enough empathy of form and approach – both use clay to provide a social context for bodily anxieties - to leave you unsure who’s done what. Like it? Then you’ll want to see Hart II at the Austrian Cultural Forum…
Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue, 2014 - Urethane, pigment and aluminium, 217 x 198 x 78 cm