Paul Carey-Kent gives us his pick of the best London Art Exhibitions for September 2016
David Korty @ Sadie Coles, 1 Davies St – Mayfair
I wasn’t fully convinced by David Korty’s last series of paintings, which lined up objects on shelves, white against a blue backdrop. But this development out of them is a winner:, the objects are replaced with shapes of fragmented text, sometimes reversed or reflected, and most of the white with a Tiepelesque range of pinks offsetting the night-deep blue. They’ve actually layered collages, and shaped to hint at figures or faces, the more so as small images of masks also appear. There’s plenty of play with what’s the background and what the foreground and frames are also collaged-on. In sum, despite the flatness, a persuasive post-modern recycling of cubist tropes.
Word Painting (Margate), 2016
John Wood and Paul Harrison: Some Things Were Recorded 1993-1998 @ Carroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street – Fitzrovia
Still from 3-Legged, 1996
It’s pretty much the non-surprise of the autumn season to report that this extensive collection of Wood and Harrison’s video work from the 90’s, supplemented by their working drawings, is a delightful reprise of the many ways they found to position themselves somewhere between Buster Keaton and Sol LeWitt: tied three-legged while dodging tennis balls, choreographing an 8 x 4 ft board, using portable steps or, more disturbingly, making the best of being trapped in a cube half-full of underwater… There is eight screens downstairs at Carroll / Fletcher, but it’s quickfire stuff so that the total running time for scores of actions is only 35 minutes or so.
Still from Harry Houdini (there’s no escape that I can see), 1994 _________________
Giuseppe Penone: Fui, Sarò, Non Sono (I was, I will be, I am not) @ Marian Goodman, 5-8 Lower John St – Central
To Oct 22: www.mariangoodman.com
Even half of Marian Goodman’s joint London-Paris survey of the last three years of Giuseppe Penone’s practice makes a strong case for best show in town – and he also has a superbly placed nine-metre tree work near The Gherkin as part of ‘Sculpture in the City’. Penone is particularly good with touch, which he considers more immediate than sight* and on human interaction with nature. Those are the connecting themes here across fingerprints, terracotta portraits of his daughter, a massive acacia thorn work, and bronze trees with an inner essence of marble.
Idee di pietra (ideas of stone), 2010
* Penone states that ‘the vision of an abject is a moment past’, whereas ‘tactile perception brings us closer to the present’. That operates poetically in the work, but actually there’s scope to disagree here: light takes pretty much no time to travel (say) a metre or two from object to eye at 300 million m/sec, much less time than for a hand’s touch to transmit to the brain through the nerves at a comparatively sluggish 100 m/sec.
Bella Easton: These Outer Shells @ Gallery Elena Shchukina, 10 Lees Place, Mayfair (access from Shepherd’s Place)
To 16 Sept: http://galleryelenashchukina.com/
According to me* ‘Bella Easton develops, replicates and reflects on apparently straightforward scenes from everyday life to generate a complex account of the multiple relationships and contradictions between inside and outside, natural and artificial, open and enclosed, chaos and order, uncanny and familiar, light and dark. In so doing, she takes her source material through a dizzying range of transformations to suggest the various selves that might be in play when we formulate our own identities’. Out of the intricacies of chirality, pareidolia and fragmentation emerge a washed-out romantic beauty.
Three in Peckham:
Dinh Q. Lê: The Colony @ 133 Rye Lane to 9 Oct
Derek Jarman garden, Floor 10, 95A Rye Lane in Bold Tendencies to 1 Oct
Colin Booth: If Not Winter @ MOCA Project Space, 113 Bellenden Rd to Sept 23
There’s plenty coming up in Mayfair, of course, but still Peckham is worth a visit. Artangel’s latest project is a spectacular three screen cinematic investigation of the boom and bust of the guano industry in the bird-blizzarded islands off Peru. Why is Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê so interested? He has no need to state explicitly that he posits guano as a 19th century equivalent of oil today. The top-of-car-park annual Bold Tendencies is always worthwhile, and while there’s less new work than usual this year, it struck me that the urban take on Derek Jarman’s Dungeoness garden (planted in 2013) has now reached a suitably windswept maturity. The other end of the scale, Colin Booth shows marble meditations from Sappho and complement’s MOCA’s library with 75 blankly quiet cedar versions from his own book collection…
Samara Scott: Developer @ Battersea Park
Just south of where the Thames forms Battersea Park’s border is one of those works likely to be differently classified by the passing public. Is it that some vandal discoloured the Mirror Pools with noxious chemicals and then dumped builder’s tarpaulin and scaffold netting? Or has Samara Scott summoned the spirit of Monet’s water lilies to arrange paintings without paint, which evocatively refer to the locality? Under Option 2 the use of chemicals to keep algae away will act like an old-style photographic developer to change the pools’ colours over time, and suggest the saltpetre works which once caused fabric production to thrive locally; while the submerged fabrics from the building trade bring to mind the other sort of developer, whose extensive construction works characterise Battersea just now.
Barry Flanagan: sand girl @ Tate Britain
The highlight of the Waddington Gallery’s Barry Flanagan retrospective earlier this year was his film sand girl, 1970, even though it wasn’t terribly well displayed. The Welsh artist (1941-2009) is better far better known for his adventurous early sculptures (quite often using sand) and later self-identification as a mischievous hare. So it’s good to find that Tate bought sand girl in 2012 and is now displaying it on a monumental scale in a dedicated room, so making the most of the chance-driven details in this 17-minute proto-exemplar of action, time and gravity as sculpture. Flanagan’s student Cheryll Potter is transformatively trickled on by sand leaked from a bag swung over her. It settles into granularity, seethes with her movements, forms abstractions on closeup, and plays hide and seek with the landscape as body.