Fitzrovia Galleries London Reviewed By Alice Pelot June 2015 Round-up

There are as many galleries in and around Fitzrovia as there are specialty coffee shops lurking down its cobbled side streets. At any given time, there are bound to be over a dozen exhibitions running, and most committing great effort to the inclusion of international and emerging artists. 

It is not appropriate to condone the rushed visitation of galleries, but many of them showing few, carefully selected works may be seen in one long afternoon. All within brief walking distance from each other, the following five Fitzrovia galleries are presenting works of great skill and vibrancy.  Herbert Golser showing at Rosenfeld Porcini, the Miaz Brothers at Lazarides Gallery, Yeşim Akdeniz at Pi Artworks, Koo Jeong A at Pilar Corrias, and Patrik Aarnivaara atChristine Park Gallery. The works currently showing at these galleries are not overly conceptual or lost in the digital cloud; they are objects that inspire close attention and admiration.  

Patrik Aarnivaara “Hours of Oblique Attention” @ Christine Park Gallery 20 June – 25 July

In his first UK solo exhibition, Patrik Aarnivaara’s recent works of sculpture capture our relationship to the camera as an object of the photographic process.  Inspired by his early photographs of sculpture, Aarnivaara’s current works are a reversal: his sculptural works are reminiscent of photography equipment including a tripod for stability, interchangeable mirrors and viewfinders.  But the photographic process, now mostly reduced to the point-and-shoot hand-held digital camera no longer involves exposing a silver coated plate for several minutes, setting up a tripod or even manually adjusting the aperture. Aarnivaara’s optical devices memorialize a dated photographic process.  Standing several feet high, the photographic monuments reflect and refract the viewer who circles them to compose an image through the many viewfinders.  The bulky, minimalist sculptures are mimetic devices to help us reflect on our interactions with the camera as an object.  Hours of Oblique Attention is a refreshing analysis of the camera responsible for the photographic process as opposed to the increasing interest of New Media artists in the digital reception and circulation of photographs. 

Koo Jeong A “Annual Journey” @ Pilar Corrias 22 April – 26 June 

Eight large, saturated watercolours by Koo Jeong A line one whole wall of Pilar Corrias Gallery from floor to ceiling.  Precise brush strokes form undulating patterns in layers of delicately varied shades of colour resembling geological rock formations.  The new series of prismatic paintings is a continuation from Koo’s project Consciousness Dilatation.  Her project, begun in 2013, is a stellar constellation of collectively gathered basalt rocks of various shapes and sizes in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.  The DMZ, with resources belonging to neither side, is a void.  A void considered by Koo to be more powerful than the objects that litter its land.  More poetically, she considers the void as ‘infinite possibility’ a place or situation in which our experience of time and space is left to circumstance.  Translating this philosophy through blocks of colour, the painted rock formations are barely distinguishable from the ground (or metaphorical void).  Faced with a monumental wall of rhythmically painted masses not dis-similar to Stonehenge, the viewer is invited to escape into Koo’s colourful void. 

Yeşim Akdeniz “The Secret Life of My Coffee Table” @ Pi Artworks 22 May – 27 June

Painter Yeşim Akdeniz visits surrealist dream-scapes in her effort to tap our collective unconscious through references to architecture and design. Unpopulated scenes of concrete Corbusier-like structures floating in oceanic wastelands are conjured by the artist as nostalgic time capsules.  Akdeniz likens her structures to the soul-stone theory of Psychologist Carl Jung. Jung believed in the power of a well-hidden comforting object to provide courage and calmness in time of difficulty, a ritual that has been performed for as long as mankind has placed spiritual value in objects.  From this Jung deduced a collective unconscious beyond personal memories, an intuitive faith in the power of our unspoken desires given form in hidden objects.  Akdeniz chooses to represent solid objects as opposed to the representation of memory accrued through the digital accumulation of photographs. The gallery emphasizes the materiality and muted colours of her paintings.  A large painted piece of wood leaning against the wall casts a painted shadow on the gallery floor and is represented in a neighboring painting.  Even if the viewer does not realize a personal connection to the painted structures or feel any comforting courage, the gallery allows them to feel a part of her painted world.

Miaz Brothers “Antimatter Series: A Boundless Vision” @ Lazarides Gallery 5 June – 2 July

‘Antimatter’ accurately describes the site-specific mass of ballistics gel on the floor of Lazarides gallery.  The clear, unidentifiable mass lying next to its plinth carved by the Miaz Brothers was a portrait produced on site and is now collapsing in the heat of the front window.  The content of both painted and sculptural forms in this series is intentionally vague.  The faceless sculptures are without identity or gender facing near abstraction and clinging to form only as spherical heads atop broad shoulders, while most of the paintings are cloudy portraits of specific women.  The Miaz Brothers use an elaborate air brushing technique to methodically subtract details from their portraits.  Recognizing the paintings as portraits from a distance it is difficult not to scan the details for familiar features.  If the people we know the most intimately are the people we have the most trouble recalling in detail, then there is a sense of loss in not recognizing these women.  Hung among the featureless portraits are complete abstractions in the same airbrush technique.  With careful attention, as is demanded from the artists, the difference between a jumble of colours and a masked portrait can be identified as an aura, an identity with which the viewer might find a substantial connection.

Herbert Golser “A Quivering Solidity” @ Rosenfeld Porcini 29 May – 11 July  (Top Photo)

Herbert Golser’s most recent wooden sculptures stand as strong as rooted trees.  Just as it is the Earth’s rotation around the sun that causes night and day, it is the viewer’s movement around the works that cause them to quiver.  The bright gallery space on both the ground and first floors reveal his delicately cut spaces.  Not only is Golser’s work delicate, but it also involves immense patience, because his sculptures are not a process of assembling paper-thin strips of wood.  Instead, his work is a process of reduction.  Each sculpture is made from a single piece of wood.  Drawn in by the intricate compositions, high level of skill and focus on materiality, there is no need for figurative subject matter.  The sculptures reflect the life of the material limited by the direction of the grain, number of knots, and density of wood.  Observing his sculptures closely is like reading Golser’s uncovered narrative of a fossilized book. 

Words/Photos: Alice Pelot ©artlyst 2015

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