Reviews of current exhibitions in the Hoxton area By Beatrix-Blaise Jacot
It’s a beautiful day; and what’s more glorious to do on a beautiful day than walk through orchards of galleries. And with Spring leaping upon us, the galleries of Hoxton have certainly blossomed (stop me when I start to get corny), with the apples of graphics ripening, the lambs of politics birthing, the daffodils of painting and photography blooming – it’s a wondrous time for art in the city.
First off, head to Hoxton Square for Gilbert & George’s exhibition at the White Cube. And it’s just how you’d expect their art to be – political with their faces stamped all over it. Despite the artists being dressed in the tweeds of romantic austerity, with a wink and cheeky smile, this work is neither lightweight, nor aesthetically pleasing, gridding grim headlines from carefully selected tabloid posters, in vampiric red & black. It’s a series that quickly strays into some politically sensitive territory, and I’ve always thought politics to be a dangerous game in art; but this is Gilbert & George, so of course they pull it off. READ FULL REVIEW
Next, to KK Outlet where ILL studio, a Parisian-based platform, introduce their ’72 Dots Per Inch’. It is a perplexing, visually appealing, and actually fairly thought-provoking exhibition. Visually the work ties into the ‘now’ of fashion – clashing and dated – as messy images are shoved together in a collage-like manner, with a commanding colour in each of the pieces, and lacing together cultural references and histories. The whole thing has a kind of 1980s colour TV vibe, with muscular figures, mundane objects and random phases colliding in a way that is immediately hip and innovative. It’s a must see, and has that cool Frenchness that only the French can pull off.
Turn right, walk 40 metres, and, if ever there were a secret hideaway for a brilliant range of artists and artworks, the Rove gallery is it. Superbly curated, the current exhibition ‘Friends and Family’ contains a fantastic cocktail of works from a diverse range of ‘artists’, amateur and professional – from Hirst to the gallerist’s 9-year-old son. On the ground floor alone the juxtaposed complexity of each artist’s concern bamboozling, with George Condo’s ‘Orgy Composition’ making the walls drip with sex and John Issac’s ‘What it is that there is something and nothing’ filling the floor with feeling. Highlights include ‘Jasper and Harry’s 99p shop’, inviting people to collect art for 99p, even though most of the stock resembles the sorts of things mum would stuff a Christmas stocking with – chocolate, toys etc. Is this art? Well J&H certainly think so, and why not live as Peter Pan?
Up another floor, and colour flies toward you like a cheetah in seventh gear (to ‘car’sonify’). And blocking your entrance is a terrifying robotic black cat with glaring blue eyes staring right into yours, that starts to bark at you like a rabid (albeit somewhat mechanical) dog. Despite ensuring nightmares, the howling creates an intriguing backing track for the rest of the show, as we are guided from momentary fear through almost every feeling one can imagine; from hatred (Guy Schacter) to joy (Jessie Wyman), to love (Walter Robinson).
The Hoxton Art Gallery boasts five artists in a cunning curation of the space, bringing together a number of pieces that, visually and conceptually, gel swimmingly. The most exciting of these artists is Nadine Mahoney, who mixes her own paint with various pigments and applies them in deep layers to create this unfathomable vibrant electric blue, exquisitely capturing the energy of the missing features of her apparent muse. With the other artist’s echoing this type of formal experimentation, this exhibition just … works. And while it may seem a little too easy a show to enjoy, what it lacks for in exigency it more than makes up for in ingenuity.
Carl Freedman’s exhibition was the most disappointing out of the bundle. Entering the fairly unwelcoming space, one is only to be then greeted with an unwelcoming spot of curation, with paintings sited unimaginatively, and only for the (somewhat dated) collector’s eye. Turns out that still-life is still boring, and the most captivating it got were a set of ‘turtle shells’ by Jess Flood Paddock. However even these were placed on a pedestal, like something to be admired, and felt oddly out of place.
Marcus Coates at Kate Macgarry, in comparison, possesses great intrigue. Coates attempts to arrest the problem of ignorance toward the animal’s world and, in doing so, educates us. He hopes to re-elevate the animal world as a rejuvenator of human life, and to reaffirm that fundamental connection between man and beast, long-lost since ancient times. This exhibition is inspiring as Coates is clearly no one-trick pony, creating work in all mediums, from sculpture, and prints, to installation and video. I know it’s cool to hate Tony Blair right now, but ‘Education Education Education’ still has that universal appeal, and we all like to show off our knowledge – so get on down there and learn the wingspan of the Albatross; I DARE YA.
Hales Gallery’s exhibition of Sebastian Bremer is not wholly arresting, but it is visually stunning. His black and white portraits prove once again that simplicity is often the best policy, with the artist creating great outputs of energy with simple dots of paint that loop and swirl. This energy often reflects the subject’s emotion, highlighting areas of distress or indeed extending smiles of happiness. A beautiful collection of work, yes, but it will be interesting to see how his career develops and whether deeper content emerges from a pretty finish.
If you like your art mathematical then finish your day-out with a trip to Brick lane where you’ll find Gallery S O and the incredible work of Pe Lang in ‘Moving Objects’. Like the Einstein of art, challenging our conceptions of how objects should behave, he manipulates spare parts as if they were merely the volume on the television; objects float how they ought not to float, they travel how they ought not to travel, and create scenes that they ought not to create. To get a sense of resultant bewitchment levels imagine a fish-tank; but replace the fish with, I don’t know… mystical sea creatures, or mini humans wandering about the glass floor. In other words pretty high.
Go have a wander in Spring sunshine and enjoy yourself!
Words/ Photos Beatrix-Blaise Jacot © 2012 ArtLyst